November 20, 2010 is the 12th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention(AFSP) states
National Survivors of Suicide Day is a day of healing for those who have lost someone to suicide. It was created by U.S. Senate resolution in 1999 through the efforts of Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who lost his father to suicide. Every year, AFSP sponsors an event to provide an opportunity for the survivor community to come together for support, healing, information and empowerment.
I have written previously about suicide and trauma survivors as well as how anti-gay bullying can increase suicide risk for LGBTQ youth. Queer communities nationally have been very sensitized to this issue recently, with all the media coverage of anti-LGBTQ bullying related suicides.
What we may not always be aware of is that suicide impacts many. The family, friends and even acquaintances of those who commit suicide are often profoundly affected by this loss. Suicide is traumatic. Those left behind often struggle with unanswered questions, feelings of guilt and even anger. In addition, since mental health issues in general and suicide in particular are still stigmatized, survivors may feel a sense of shame that precludes talking about their loss and reaching out for the help they need.
The AFSP has designated November 20th a “Day of Healing for Survivors of Suicide Loss Around the World.” Simultaneously, 260 conferences will take place in various locations, to help survivors of suicide loss connect with each other with the goal of processing this trauma and working towards healing.
For those survivors of suicide loss who don’t live near a conference site or who find it difficult to attend in person, the 90-minute broadcast will also be available live on the AFSP website from 1-2:30 pm, Eastern Standard Time, with a live online chat immediately following the program. It will then be saved on the website so that survivors can watch it again throughout the year at anytime. Now, survivors can also watch the 2008 webcast at anytime in Spanish.
If you have lost someone to suicide you are not alone. Support is available. Connection with others who understand can be very healing.