November 21st is International Survivor of Suicide Day. This is a day to commemorate those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Here is how you can observe
Suicide has touched almost everyone on our planet. According to the World Health Organization, over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there are many more who attempt suicide. The grief and loss can paralyze us. Often, we will keep our feelings locked inside ourselves, not seeking an outlet to share our sadness, or the good memories left behind. However, there is a day that survivors of suicide can find solace and community with others.
November 21st is International Survivor of Suicide Day (ISSD). This is a day to commemorate those who have lost a loved one to suicide and to allow fellow survivors to share their fond memories and heavy hearts with others.
According to the event’s website, the day saw its beginnings in 1999 with a resolution from Senator Harry Reid. “A survivor of his father’s 1972 suicide, (he) introduced a new resolution into the US Senate. With its passage, the US Congress designated the Saturday before American Thanksgiving as National Survivors of Suicide Day, a day on which friends and family of those who have died by suicide can join together for healing and support.” The word “International” was added to recognize that survivors of suicide know no boundaries and lines and share the same burden.
This is a program of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, whose mission is to “fund research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy and support survivors of suicide loss.” The foundation, founded in 1987, has provided resources for suicide prevention, understanding the concept of suicide, coping with loss, research, and fundraising.
The event website has several useful resources for those who are in need of solace or are interested in participating in the day.
Find a Live Event: Using the event locator on the site, search for ISSD events around the United States. Enter the state or zip code to find the location of the event, contact information, directions and other useful information. This provides an opportunity to gather with other survivors of suicide and participate in commemorations.
Survivor of Suicide Documentaries: Often survivors of suicide feel that they are alone, and that no one else understands their pain. They are not alone, and there have been several documentaries of those who have dealt with similar grief. The ISSD website has several videos that cover the lives of those affected by loss.
Memory Quilt: The website also features a digital memory quilt that allows users to create a photo display of lost loved ones, including music and text, to memorialize their lives. By registering through the website, you can then add your archived photos and video and design the quilt to your liking.
Survivors of suicide do not have to grieve alone. There are resources available as well as entire networks of fellow survivors who come together every year to remember. Survivors may want to consider participating in this year’s ISSLD or accessing the websites above. For those currently suffering, help is available through the resources below.