Sunday, November 16, 2008

Survivors of Suicide Day

On Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will sponsor its 10th annual National Survivors of Suicide Day, reaching out to thousands of people who have lost a loved one to suicide.

The day of conferences across the U.S. connects survivors of suicide loss (parents, siblings, grandparents, friends), and if survivors don’t live near a conference site to attend in person, the 90-minute broadcast will also be available on the AFSP website ( from 1-2:30 p.m. EST with a live online chat immediately following the program. Many local conference sites are planning their own programs around the broadcast, including panels and breakout groups, all aimed at helping survivors heal. Go to the site for additional information and locations of participating cities.

The broadcast features a panel of experienced survivors and mental health professionals and offers emotional support and information about resources for healing after the loss of a loved one to suicide.

AFSP’s National Survivors of Suicide Day is part of a growing movement toward education the public about suicide and its aftermath. The hope is that participation in the conference will further this movement, encouraging survivors throughout the country and the globe to share their experiences and join together in the healing process.

According to AFSP, more than 32,000 people in the United States die by suicide each year. More than 90 percent have an underlying, although not always diagnosed, psychiatric illness at the time of their death. Despite this, survivors often feel the suicide of their loved one is somehow shameful or that they or their family are somehow to blame. Questions of “why” and “what could I have done” can further the feelings of guilt and anger.

Also complicating grief are the stigma and misconceptions that plague suicide. Whether real or perceived, this stigma can leave many survivors feeling shunned by friends, the community or even family members. Survivors feel alone, abandoned or afraid to reach out for help. Connecting with others who have gone through a similar loss is beneficial.

If there is not a conference site in your area and you are interested in organizing one for Nov. 22, email .

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