On Wednesday 11th November, PleaseTalk UCD held their annual remembrance ceremony for those lost to suicide. It was attended by members of the PleaseTalk society, UCD Students’ Union Welfare officer Clare O’Connor, as well as the mental health coordinator for UCDSU and a number of college officers. Fr. John McNeerny from the Chaplaincy and Aisling O’Grady of the student advisors were also in attendance.
The event was held in November as part of the month of remembrances. Chair of PleaseTalk UCD Cathal Butler said that it was also intended to be before exam season and that the society traditionally holds the ceremony during the first semester of the year. He noted that suicide is a “tragic issue” and that it is important to hold events such as these “to let people know that these things exist.”
Butler stated that although there has been a reduction in the stigma around mental health issues, there is still a stigma surrounding suicide. He claims that there is still much work to be done to change this.
Fr. McNeerny also spoke and noted that there were supports in UCD for people who may be struggling. These include the chaplaincy, the welfare officer and the student advisers. He said the “important thing is to take the initiative and talk to a significant other person.” This sentiment was echoed by Butler who claimed that “reaching out to the people around you is the first step.”
O’Grady, who is the student advisor for the school of Arts and Celtic Studies, also noted the supports within UCD. She claimed it was important to remember that “we are all here and concerned for each other.”
The ceremony ended with a number of people associated with PleaseTalk reading a series of poems. This included “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep,” by Mary Elizabeth Frye, “Life Must Go On,” a Native American prayer and “Our Lives Matter,” by Maureen Killoran. A number of candles were laid out to spell PleaseTalk but the wind meant that they could not be lit.
The ceremony comes as UCD’s counselling service sees record highs in the numbers of students on the waiting list.