*trigger warning: mention of suicide*
This day falls on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year. In 2020, the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day will fall on 21st November. It was introduced by the United States Congress after U.S Senator Harry Reid lost his father to suicide. On this day, people who have lost loved ones to suicide come together to connect with and support each other. Every year, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention supports and provides resources for events for survivors to attend around the world. This day occurs during the holiday season as this time can be especially challenging for survivors to deal with alone.
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day creates an environment where survivors can meet other survivors and talk about their experiences without feeling judged. People can openly share their feelings with each other and be greeted with understanding and support. Not only does this allow survivors of suicide to express themselves and support one another, it also provides them with a meaningful platform to remember and commemorate their loves ones.
In addition to supporting the survivors of suicide, on International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, programs and events are held to educate people about suicide and how those affected by it can cope with their loss. Events can vary and may include panel discussions, speakers, etc. However, each event involves a 90-minute online program hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention every year. This starts with the screening of a film ‘Life Journey’s : Reclaiming Life After Loss’, after which there is a facilitated discussion on coping with grief after losing a loved one to suicide.
On this day last year, the American Foundation for Suicide Awareness also launched a series of documentaries highlighting personal stories of people’s experience dealing with suicide loss. These documentaries highlight the challenges and process of healing faced by each person and serve to provide stories of hope to other survivors. On this International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, survivors can log in to online events from the safety of their homes to watch the screening of these programs and documentaries and join a live discussion with experts and fellow survivors.
Hence, this day provides educational resources on how to cope with loss for survivors of suicide loss, and also allows a safe and understanding platform for survivors to support and encourage one another and talk about their healing process.
Gebbia R. (2015) International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. Retrieved from: https://www.sprc.org/news/international-survivors-suicide-loss-day-0