Families of suicide victims decorate the Memory Tree - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Families of suicide victims decorate the Memory Tree

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 New) - The "Memory Tree" gets decorated by friends and families of suicide victims.

Each ornament on the tree represents a suicide victim, and unfortunately, there are so many victims in this area now, that the Heartbeat Monroe organization had to get a bigger tree.

"Our little tree...it's sad the we have to put that many on there," says Maria Pipes who has helped decorate the Memory Tree for the past few years. She's been apart of Heartbeat Monroe for just as long. Pipes joined just after her son, Dexter, committed suicide in March of 2007.

"It's not like talking to a psychiatrist or somebody, because these mothers experience what you're experiencing," says Pipes about the support group.

Families of suicide victims walk to the Christmas tree in front of St. Thomas Episcopal church each year to decorate. 33 red lights represent the average suicides in region 8 each year, and 550 white lights for the average suicides in Louisiana.

Before hanging each hand-painted ornament, the name of the victim is said out-loud. The group helps families cope throughout the year but holidays are especially difficult times for some.

"The anniversary of his death, Christmas, summer, school, football... because he was a part of everything, in your life, and you just try to get through it," says Pipes.

Pipes says families can never fully move past a suicide, but with special support like Heartbeat Monroe, families can better cope.

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