Death of a loved one is difficult to deal with, but suicide can be even more devastating for family, friends and acquaintances.
The 12th annual National Survivors of Suicide Day is celebrated Nov. 20 to support survivors of suicide loss in a “day of healing,” according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.
“It was created by resolution of the United States Senate,” said Joanne Harpel, the director of survivor initiatives for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Senator Harry Reid of Nevada lost his father to suicide and so the Senate passed a resolution declaring the Saturday before Thanksgiving to be National Survivors of Suicide Day.”
The day was created in 1999.
“Because there is still unfortunately stigma attached to suicide in many places, oftentimes families that lose a loved one to suicide don’t talk about it very openly and don’t know anyone else who’s been through this experience,” Harpel said. “It provides an opportunity for survivors of suicide loss to feel less alone, to have a sense of community, to meet other survivors, to get information and guidance about how to manage this loss and cope with it based on what’s worked for other people.”
Suicide loss is such a sensitive topic, but she said she has gotten positive feedback for the day.
“It’s certainly very emotional, but overwhelmingly they feel incredible gratitude,” Harpel said. “For many people this is the first time they’ve ever met anyone else who’s been through this experience, and so they find it incredibly comforting and they also find it very informative.”
There are 250 conferences available around the world in order to support survivors of suicide, and those can be found on the website.
According to the American Association of Suicidology, 2007 statistics that were released this year found that “suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death” in the U.S. and that although males complete suicide more often than females, “females attempt suicide three times more often than males.”
According to the association, suicides are more likely associated with those who have mental disorders.