On the Saturday November 16, we observe International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. During this time, the friends and families who have lost loved ones to suicide join together and find healing and support while raising awareness for the issue so that, hopefully, others won’t have to go through what they’ve experienced.
Those Left Behind
The commemoration was introduced by Senator Harry Reid who is a survivor of his father's suicide. It shows that these tragedies have more than one victim, as those they leave behind must bear the loss and grief.
These tragedies are also traumatic, and loved ones must undergo a process of recovery. They're left to face the uncertainty that comes afterwards, and the struggle to understand why the tragedies occured - the reasons for which they may never know.
Survivors of loss, the close families and friends have an increased risk of suicide themselves. According to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention:
First-degree relatives who have lost family members have a threefold higher chance of suicide.
Youth who have lost peers to suicide are particularly vulnerable to suicide themselves.
And men who have lost spouses to suicide have a 46-fold higher risk of taking their own lives.
Women have a 16-fold increase.
On our part, SharpenMinds programs and research contribute to the cause. sharpenWARRIOR and SharpenFAMILY support families and provide them with vetted resources. In the case of the former, veterans dealing with PTSD have a higher risk for suicide. For the latter, the program assists families with issues including childhood trauma, loss and depression. We also support suicide prevention efforts such as the Suicide Prevention Initiative in Spartanburg.
It is important to do something, and every little bit that helps counts. Even simply talking about the subject can be a very helpful as it can raise awareness and diminish the stigma or hesitation towards discussing the matter. Through this, people can find connections rather than be isolated or left to their own devices.
Survivors and mourners need to find support and mutual aid, shoulders to lean on as they process their experiences. In this, they can also help others find their way. By fostering a community, people can recover better. While things can never be the same again, at least they can go forward in healthier ways. This is the main point of International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, which of course is a reminder that the support we give each other should extend beyond a single day - it’s something we should do on all days.