This Saturday, November 17th, is the International Survivors of Suicide Loss day. It always falls on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year. It’s a day where people all around the world can come together and meet locally and even online in groups to share stories of hope, loss, and to share in the grief of losing someone to suicide. I myself am a suicide loss survivor. At the age of 16 my cousin whom I was close with ended his life. There was no warning, no note, no indication whatsoever of what he was going to do. To this day I still grieve in my own way, thinking what it may have been like to speak with him about it to try to get an understanding of his thoughts, his feelings, his emotions.
There are many Survivor Day events that you can find by clicking HERE via the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Just today I was talking with a friend on the very topic of suicide. I have found myself on the side of the one who is contemplating suicide. I have also found myself on the other side of the one who has lost one to suicide. Fortunately for me, my friend was too. Just having someone to listen to me, to talk to me through my grief was something that I did not have when I was going through suicide loss. I still find that I experience feelings and emotions tied around suicide prevention and suicide survivor loss that is difficult for me to process, especially at times such as now during which I find myself struggling to maintain my mental health.
Also today, I read another story of a child who ended her life due to bullying. Yesterday I read about another child who ended their life. Tomorrow, the reality is that I will also read a story of someone who has ended their life. Someone ends their life every 40 seconds. Someone also becomes a survivor of suicide loss every 41 seconds. We are not here to judge their thoughts, their rationality, their feelings, or tell them that thinking about suicide is wrong. If we are to help prevent the grief from suicide loss, then we must be proactive about preventing suicides. How do we do that? Through love. Active listening. Being there for someone going through a rough time. Providing them with effective resources to help them find strong supportive systems and effective treatments. Through the CR Mental Health Initiative, we are striving to break the stigma that bound us to the shame and guilt of talking about things such as suicidal thoughts. We are working to make it okay to talk about mental health. We are working to empower others to be able to sit with and listen with love to those who struggle with mental health issues even when they don’t know what to do.
We don’t always know what to do. Even so, there is always love. If you are a survivor of suicide loss, I encourage you to share your story, to listen to the stories of others, to help others find hope and healing and even yourself find hope and healing. Celebrate Recovery is a wonderful program to help find a strong support system to help us through our mental health journey, and to talk about the difficult topics.
We are changing the way we view mental health, one story at a time. If you’ve got a story to share, we’d love to hear it! You can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can remain anonymous and we won’t share anything you don’t give us permission to.
April Brantley, CR Mental Health Team X-Factor