Calls for Larne suicide awareness charity to scrap balloon release

PIPS Larne chair, Carlee Letson. INLT 37-005-PSB
PIPS Larne chair, Carlee Letson. INLT 37-005-PSB

A suicide prevention charity has vowed to forge ahead with plans for its annual balloon release, despite calls for the event to be scrapped.

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, PIPS Larne intends to release white balloons outside Larne Town Hall in memory of loved ones who have taken their own lives.

However, the group has been urged to reconsider the planned event due to environmental concerns.

A local environmental campaigner, who did not wish to be named, feared the event could pose a real danger to local wildlife.

She told the Times: “I understand the symbolism but I was hoping PIPS might consider an alternative tribute as balloon/ sky lantern releases are heavily damaging to the environment and can be fatal to local wildlife.”

Meanwhile, an RSPB spokesperson added that the organisation “strongly discourages” the public from organising or taking part in these events.

Mid and East Antrim Council is also considering implementing a ban on sky lantern and balloon release from council-owned property.

But PIPS Larne founder Carlee Letson said this year’s event would be going ahead as planned.

She added: “We are not releasing masses of balloons; it will be a single white balloon per family and we are expecting no more than 20 families to attend, so I really don’t think it is anything to get worked up over. Perhaps for next year’s event we will look at alternatives.”