Pictured above left to right: Jenni Martin, comms assistant, the Samaritans; Alderman Owen Gawith; Alderman Paul Porter; Gay Sherry-Bingham, centre manager, Atlas Women’s Centre; The Mayor, Councillor Andrew Gowan; Andrew Armstrong, counsellor, Emerge Counselling Services; Pauline Rea, volunteer with the Samaritans, Belfast branch and Cherry Cantrell, Support Services Officer, AWARE NI.

A specially-designed bench has been installed in Lisburn as part of a council initiative to provide an area of reflection for friends and families bereaved through suicide.

With a bespoke look created in-house by the Council and made of black powder-coated steel, the seating features the wording, 'In memory of the loved ones we have lost to suicide'. 

The bench was unveiled today by Mayor Andrew Gowan in the grounds of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s headquarters at Lagan Valley Island (LVI). He said: “The words ‘love, comfort, hope, strength’ are inscribed on the bench to convey the care we, as a Council, want to show for anyone grieving a loved one. 

“The area within LVI grounds will be here for anyone to visit at any time and particularly on World Suicide Prevention Day, which takes place on Sunday (10 September). The theme for this year is, ‘creating hope through action’ and we will be marking the day by lighting up our headquarters to help raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.”

The installation of the bench follows discussions that first took place in July 2020, when Alderman Paul Porter put forward a proposal for a memorial in support of those whose relatives or friends had died by suicide. Following a consultation exercise on the plan, the project was agreed by Council members. 

Alderman Owen Gawith, Chair of the Council’s Corporate Services Committee said: “We are grateful to those organisations which advised and supported us on this initiative – and we hope that it will provide a place of some solace for those who have been bereaved. I would like to thank the Samaritans and AWARE NI for their guidance as well as the local charities who responded to our consultation on this project – Atlas Women’s Centre, Emerge Counselling Services and Dreamscheme NI.”

Alderman Paul Porter said: “We want to support families and friends who have lost loved ones and also to signpost those people who might need help and support.  The Samaritans is an organisation which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide confidential, emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org

“AWARE NI is the ‘depression charity’ for Northern Ireland offering support to those impacted by depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.  They have offices in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry as well as a network of 25 support groups across Northern Ireland. Their team can be contacted 028 9035 7820 or info@aware-ni.org and its website is www.aware-ni.org ”

Location of bench / area of reflection: Access Lagan Valley Island from the Millbrook car park and cross the footbridge towards the LVI building. When facing The Elements sculpture / fountain, you will see the bench located on a green area to the left, nestled in a corner surrounded by hedging plants.