Renfrewshire’s commemorative service for loved ones lost to suicide has seen its peak of participation this year.
The commemoration was held in Paisley last week, hosted by Survivors of Bereavement Through Suicide (SOBS) and led by Provost Lorraine Cameron.
This year, more people than ever showed up for the service, a crowd that filled the small conference room in Renfrewshire House.
Provost Lorraine Cameron said:
“I looked at the crowd and it’s busier than it’s ever been, and I did think – is this a good thing, [meaning] that the message is reaching more people that want to join, or is there an increase in the amount of people in this area who have taken their own lives?
“It was kind of a bitter sweet moment. I’m hoping it’s because more people are finding out but you don’t know.”
Provost Cameron opened the ceremony, before Reverend Alan Birss and Father John Eagers both read some passages.
The service was closed with a moving poem read by Rosemary Mullan, from the Choose Life group.
After the service, people gathered around the memorial tree where the Provost laid a commemorative wreath.
Anyone who wished to was then able to tie a purple heart on the tree with a message to a loved one lost to suicide.
The Provost highlighted how important these events are, especially because they are few and far between.
Speaking about suicide and the taboo over it, she said:
“We need to get the message across that there is no shame in taking their own lives, the family members who have done this are experiencing perhaps depression, anxiety or isolation.
“They maybe had worries that the people left behind can’t understand but they’ve done it for some reason and there shouldn’t be any shame, not for them, not for there family and not for their friends.”
Provost Cameron believes that the only way to stop people thinking like that is by having public events, that inform people and give them information about suicide and self harm.
“Some people say – rightly or wrongly, I’m not saying I agree with this – but you just can’t stop people. People who take their own lives often don’t show any signs of depression so therefor how can they be helped?
“Many don’t know that their family member are suffering inside so how can they do anything about it when they don’t know until someone takes their own life.
“But hopefully by continuing to talk about things like this in groups and individually with my council colleagues, that’s the important thing to keep talking about it and to come together and support people who maybe have depression or suicidal thoughts.”
SOBS adopted the memorial tree in 2010, with the support of former Provost Celia Lawson and Councillor Lorraine Cameron.
The tree is placed near other memorials outside Renfrewshire House in Cotton Street, Paisley.
An inscribed stone laid in front of it reads: ‘In memory of those who have taken their own life. Gone too soon.’
The tree was set up to give people a place to visit in memory of the loved ones they lost to suicide.
Photography by Jordan Shepherd