Each year in Ireland around 400 people take their own life – each suicide has a devastating and lasting impact on their families, friends and communities.
Faced with a sudden, often unexpected and sometimes violent death, the bereaved experience a complex grief which typically includes strong feelings of guilt, self-reproach and questioning – “why?”. Discomfort, shame and stigma associated with suicide can make it difficult to talk about. There may be further complexities not common to normal bereavements e.g. inquests, media coverage, trauma reactions and difficult family relationships.
Those bereaved by suicide often feel isolated at a time when they are hurting, suffering mental anguish and are vulnerable themselves to thoughts of suicide. Even those fortunate enough to have strong support networks can still feel alone, unable to share their true feelings for fear of their impact on others, particularly when they are also in a caring role for others who are bereaved.
For every suicide which takes place, up to 135 people are affected by their death. Fact. This means that 54,000 people in Ireland, every year, are affected by suicide. The emotional, quality of life and financial impacts are long lasting and wide reaching. It is a major public health issue.
We are a self-help organisation. We aim to provide a safe, confidential environment in which those bereaved by suicide can share their experiences and feelings, so giving and gaining support from each other.
We also strive to improve public awareness and maintain contacts with many other statutory and voluntary organisations.
In January 2016, 11 year old Milly Tuomey died by suicide. Her death was, and continues to be, a source of pain, sadness and disbelief to her family and friends. To lose a child is a devastating blow. To lose a young child to suicide brings another level of pain.
Milly’s presence and mega-watt smile lit up everywhere she went and everyone she met. Her love of life, her infectious laugh and personality, spread a little happiness wherever she went. She was full of love and had an abundance of talent – singing, dancing, sports, piano, languages, making people laugh. She loved her family and friends with a passion. The world was her oyster and the possibilities endless.
After Milly died, I looked for a local suicide bereavement group. There was none, so I had to drive over two hours just to find one. When I walked into a room with other suicide bereaved people, it was like the first time I had exhaled in months. To meet with others who were walking the same path offered me hope. To speak with those further along this awful path, who had grown around their pain, gave me the strength and belief that I could too.
In February 2017, with the help of another bereaved mother Carol Milton, I setup a suicide bereavement organisation called H.U.G.G (Healing Untold Grief Groups). H.U.G.G. groups meet twice a month for two hours. They are a place of support, love, hope and healing. A place you can just be as you are. The groups are led by trained volunteers, who are also bereaved survivors. Everyone is welcome.