International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is a day when the friends and family of those who have died by suicide can come together for healing and support. The day falls annually on the Saturday before the American Thanksgiving holiday, which is widely regarded as the unofficial start of the holiday season in the United States and one of the most difficult times of the year for those who have lost loved ones.
Sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day was created in 1999 by the United States Congress acting on a resolution by Senator Harry Reid, a survivor of his father’s suicide. Memorial events are planned annually across six continents.
Here are some facts from Suicide Awareness Voices for Education (SAVE) regarding suicide and suicide survivorship, inspired by the popularity of recent drama series 13 Reasons Why:
- People often identify with characters they see on TV or in movies. However, it is important to remember that there are healthy ways to cope with hardship, and acting on suicidal thoughts is not one of them.
- If you have watched the show and feel like you need support or someone to talk to, reach out. Talk with a friend, family member, a counselor, or therapist. There is always someone who will listen.
- Suicide is not a common response to life’s challenges or adversity. The vast majority of people who experience bullying, the death of a friend, or any other adversity do not die by suicide. In fact, most reach out, talk to others, and seek help or find other productive ways of coping. They go on to lead healthy, normal lives.
- There are many treatment options for life challenges, distress, and mental illness. Treatment works.
- Suicide affects everyone, and everyone can do something to help if they see or hear warning signs that someone is at risk of suicide.
- Talking openly and honestly about emotional distress and suicide is ok. It will not make someone more suicidal or put the idea of suicide in their mind. If you are concerned about someone, ask them about it.
- Knowing how to acknowledge and respond to someone who shares their thoughts of emotional distress or suicide with you is important. Don’t judge them or their thoughts. Listen. Be caring and kind. Offer to stay with them. Offer to go with them to get help or to contact a crisis line.
- While not everyone will know what to say or have a helpful reaction, there are people who do, so keep trying to find someone who will help you. If someone tells you they are suicidal, take them seriously and get help.
- Suicide is never the fault of survivors of suicide loss. There are resources and support groups for suicide loss survivors.
- If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, text “START” to 741741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).