International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
Designated by Congress, November 18 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day— a day for those affected by suicide to come together for healing and support. It also serves to bring awareness to the complex grief associated with the loss of a loved one to suicide.
More than 48,000 people in the U.S. died by suicide in 2022. Each one of those losses leaves behind loved ones struggling to understand and cope. Despite the understanding that suicide occurs among people of all ages and demographic groups, stigma around mental illness and the complicated emotions surrounding suicide often prevent people from reaching out for support.
During this International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, it is important to share information about how everyone can provide support for the well-being of survivors. For example, promoting feelings of belonging by talking about the loss and providing social support can play critical roles in helping survivors to recover and grow. This results in fewer depressive symptoms, decreased grief difficulties and increased personal growth. It is common for family and friends to not talk about their tragedy with others, which increases the likelihood of loneliness, detachment, and difficulty coping. When suicide loss survivors talk and share with others, it creates a greater sense of support. This can help protect them against persistent grief and harmful effects of bereavement.
It is important to remember that while as a society mourns the loss of people who die by suicide, their loved ones are still trying to survive, and they need your help. You can help by understanding that suicide is not contagious, and that staying away and avoiding the loss only makes it harder to heal. Stand beside them and offer support, even when it’s hard. Most importantly, above all else, let them know their emotions are valid and their loved ones mattered.
You can find a local Survivor Day event near you at afsp.org/survivorday, and if you're unable to join in person, tune in at 7 pm ET on Saturday, November 18, at facebook.com/afspnational or youtube.com/afspnational.
Katie Aiken is a Blueprint Spoke Clinician with UCS and a certified Mental Health First Aid Trainer.
United Counseling Service (UCS) is a private, non-profit community mental health center that has been an essential part of Bennington County’s integrated healthcare system since 1958. The organization has been designated as a Center of Excellence by Vermont Care Partners. UCS promotes healthy lifestyles through all its programs and offers care at 15 different facilities, including two primary outpatient facilities in Bennington and Manchester. UCS provides outpatient counseling and addiction services, emergency mental health services, extensive rehabilitation services, home and school-based services, employment services for people recovering from mental illness or with developmental disabilities, and early childhood services. For more information visit www.ucsvt.org.