International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
When Dan took his life I was in shock. Looking back the signs were there, and I couldn’t stop beating myself up for not having done more to help him. I didn’t even like to talk about it because people would think I was a terrible friend, which is how I felt. Then I saw a flier for an event for suicide loss survivors and decided to see what it was about.
Hearing stories from people who know what this kind of loss feels like – not just the grief but the guilt and shame of wondering if I could have saved him – was so helpful. It was not like I had feared; no one judged, and everyone understood. Since then I have started connecting with other survivors and encouraging others who have lost someone to do the same. Now I feel like I can honor Dan’s memory by helping others to the light.
There is growing recognition that suicide is a significant public health problem, and many training programs and campaigns provide education about warning signs and how to help someone that may be suicidal. What many people may not know is that for every suicide death at least six people are significantly affected by the complicated grief that follows, and according to this estimate, 6 million Americans have become “suicide loss survivors” over the last 25 years.
On November 19th people around the world will gather to observe International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, sharing stories of healing and hope in memory of their loved ones. This observance began in 1999 when Senator Harry Reid, who lost his father to suicide, introduced Senate Resolution 99 to establish national Survivors of Suicide Day. Over the years communities around the world have joined in the observance.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) supports events locally that include a screening of the film Life Journeys: Reclaiming Life After Loss. The AFSP provides resources and tools for organizers of local events and also hosts a 90-minute online program that includes the film followed by a facilitated discussion on coping with loss after suicide. For more information about local events or the online program visit the AFSP’s Survivor Day web site. On this page you can also find view archives of prior years’ programs.
You are not alone. If you or someone you know has lost someone to suicide, whether recently or many years ago, reach out. Listen to stories from survivors of suicide loss by visiting the Each Mind Matters Stories page. Attend an AFSP event to start connecting with other survivors. To find support programs in your area, contact your local crisis center (see the County Resources Page under “Reach Out” on the Know the Signs website) or Friends for Survival.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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