Eight anti-suicide messages of hope were beamed out over the River Shannon in Limerick tonight as part of a project to try to cut the numbers of people taking their own lives on the river.
The initiative, which is the brainchild of Leaving Certificate student Katie Whelan, went live at 7.30pm on Thomond Bridge, and was launched by local Munster rugby star Keith Earls.
Katie, who's young cousin Lisa passed away after entering the river, said: "It was amazing. There were hundreds of people there. We released a load of coloured balloons to remember everyone who has passed away. I want this to be a new beginning now and the start of positive mental health in Limerick."
Katie, 18, had a vivid dream in which her late cousin stepped away from the river after seeing a brightly lit message of hope in the sky. The dream sparked the Katie's idea to start the "Lisa's Light" campaign to "Light Up Limerick's Bridges".
In recent years scores of families have been left devastated after their loved ones perished in the River Shannon resulting in the formation of a plethora of local search and rescue groups including the Corbett Suicide Prevention Patrol which patrols the riverfront hoping to prevent people from taking their own lives.
Katie praised Limerick City & County Council and the services of local graphic design firm Alphaset which has crafted the LED messages for free.
"I ran into so many dead ends with so many different companies, and then I sent on my drawings to Alphaset and they said they could do it. A couple of weeks later they had a prototype built which was just amazing to see. We brought it into the council and they gave us the go ahead."
Around three hundred people attended the switching on of the lights, which read messages including...
"It's the little things"
"Add friends to your tea"
"Look up, look forward"
"Everyday is a new beginning"
Katie said: "My ultimate aim is to boost positive mental health in Limerick and to hopefully get through to people (contemplating suicide), because sometimes people slip through the net, and I just want to help reach those people.
Katie said she hoped the initiative can spread to other cities.