JAMESTOWN – International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is the one day a year when people affected by suicide loss gather in their local communities to find comfort and gain understanding as they share stories of healing and hope.
A local Survivor Day event will be held in Jamestown on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County at 31 Water Street # 7.
“After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death,” said Sarah Clark, Western New York Area Director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). “Caring for those left behind in the aftermath of a suicide is an essential part of suicide prevention because suicide loss survivors who are left to grieve alone are at greater risk of suicide themselves.”
Survivor Day was created by an act of Congress in 1999 and since then has been sponsored and supported by AFSP. In 2014 there were 278 locally organized events held throughout the U.S., Canada, and around the world. This year’s gatherings will include a screening of AFSP’s compelling new documentary Family Journeys: Healing and Hope after a Suicide.
“I lost my father to suicide 27 years ago when I was a teenager. Until recently, I was ashamed to share how my father died because of the stigma, but I am finding healing in sharing my story more openly,” said Heidi Boser, survivor of suicide loss. “I’ve learned that many others have encountered their own loss to suicide and there is often an immediate connection and even a sense of relief when this experience is shared. My desire is to help stomp out the stigma associated with suicide. Survivor Day will provide an opportunity to share similar experiences in a safe and stigma-free environment.”
Patricia Brinkman, Director of the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, is a supporter of this event stating, “Survivor Day is a way to reinforce that Chautauqua County is a community who cares. Each person can be an inspiration to another, from the sharing of loss to the celebration of life. I hope that the community will show their support by attending the local event in person or by viewing the international event online at www.survivorday.org.”
For many loss survivors, attending a Survivor Day event is an opportunity to discover that they are not alone in their experience of losing someone they know and love to suicide. For those who are unable to attend a Survivor Day event in person, AFSP hosts a Survivor Day program online. The 90-minute online program will be held on November 21 at 1:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time. Those who participate online can watch the Family Journeys: Healing and Hope After Suicide, contribute to the Digital Memory Quilt, and participate in a post-screening discussion with suicide loss survivors and experts on coping with a suicide loss. If unable to join the live online event, the recorded program will be available on the website afterwards. More information about the online International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day event can be found at www.survivorday.org.
The local International Survivor Day event has been supported by a local group dedicated to suicide prevention called the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
“The Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention is a group of dedicated professionals and community members that have come together to recognize the call to action for suicide prevention work in Chautauqua County,” said Victoria Patti, Co-Coordinator of the Alliance. “It is so important that we talk about these concerns and don’t brush them aside and hope they go away. We need to create a community culture in which we feel comfortable in talking about mental health openly and honestly in order to receive the support and resources necessary to work towards wellness. We hope that this partnership with the AFSP serves as a way to reach those we might not have had the opportunity in the past; including others that believe in the cause and would like to contribute to a suicide safer community.”
To learn more about International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, visit www.survivorday.org.
For additional information about the local Survivor Day event or to contact The Alliance for additional information, contact Victoria Patti at (716) 753-4519 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.