Living Links Conference

Our conference was held in the Mount Errigal Hotel on Saturday 5th September 2009.

The theme was ‘Out of the Darkness’ and the aim of the conference was to encourage people who have been bereaved or affected by suicide to talk about their experiences and avail of the many support services provided in the Donegal area.

Living Links Conference

Below is an article from the Donegal Democrat about the conference.

The cloud that never lifts

Donegal Democrat
By Paddy Walsh
Published Date: 10 September 2009

It’s a shadow that’s always there. A cloud that never lifts. A question that never gets answered.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and for those who have been left behind it’s a particular poignant reminder as if they ever really need one. A reminder of loved ones who have taken their own lives for whatever reasons. But also a day when the voice of hope can be heard through the support of various support groups.

One of those groups, Donegal Living Links, hosted a special conference in Letterkenny on Saturday last for those bereaved or affected by suicide. ‘Out of the Darkness’ offered as it suggests a guiding light, a way of facing the reality, of feeling and expressing the pain and fashioning, as the programme pointed out, a new relationship with the person who has died and those left to pick up the pieces.

A number of prominent speakers helped switch on the light but it was the voices of bereaved family members who put the taboo issue where it belonged - in a public forum designed to allow the tortured a talking outlet.

Parents such as John and Mary McTiernan who were bereaved by the suicide of their 24 year old son, Gary, five years ago. They have seen the need to highlight the effects of suicide and the vital requirement to support the bereaved.

The Donegal branch of Living Links was formed in January 2007 as a direct response to a suicide in the community. “The event was tragic and for the people there was a huge sense of inadequacy on the ground as to how to provide appropriate community support and a consequent sense of failure as a community,” the programme notes for last weekend’s conference outlined.

It was found that within the first twelve to fourteen months following the suicide, most people were basically in a state of confusion and experiencing multiple emotions such as anger, guilt, denial and even suicidal thoughts. Consequently, it was decided to start a suicide outreach support programme to help meet the requirements of the bereaved.

Speaking to the ‘Democrat’ yesterday, one woman, who has lost two family members to suicide in the space of seven years, maintained: “The pain is always there. You always have to live with the bereavement. It’s something that you never really come to terms with.

“But it’s great to have conferences such as last Saturday’s to remind you of the support that’s out there and to have organisations such as Living Links, Aware, GROW and the Samaritans. It’s important to get people to talk about their feelings.”

A number of workshops were also staged as part of the conference in the Mount Errigal Hotel with speakers including Christy Kenneally, television personality and author of ten books including ‘Life After Loss’