This year, 2021, is the 23rd annual International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. The day is sponsored by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and designated by Senate Resolution in 1999 as the Saturday before Thanksgiving specifically to minister to the needs of the newly bereaved and support all who have experienced suicide loss. This day is commemorated by survivors all over the world. It is a day to take a deep breath, to sit with others who understand, and to give and receive support. Although activities around the world may differ, it has been a tradition to watch an AFSP film together, have conversations with other survivors and use rituals like candle lighting and art to bring healing and hope. It is a day of remembrance.
Albuquerque’s event is being held virtually again on November 20, 2021, 3pm-4:30pm. More info: Autumn – firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a separate event for Survivors of Suicide Mothers also on November 20, 1-3:30pm. More info: Desiree – email@example.com
Survival is not about moving on and forgetting our loved ones, as if we could. But we survive by watching and learning from those who have gone before us. Even though we will continue to have painful memories and reminders of what happened, we also have hope that we will learn to move through, and even beyond our grief. You may not believe it now, but deep within you, even deeper than the grief, is the ability to heal and survive.
My name is Desiree, and I am a survivor of the suicide of my son Ryan who died 15 ½ years ago. Suicide is such an ugly word. We feel its agony and can hardly believe it has happened in our lives. But it did happen, and we are left reeling from its effect. Our grief will change over time, and we will be changed by it. But one thing that will never change is missing our loved one.
I will always miss Ryan’s company, his laugh, his presence and what might have been. But like so many survivors before me, I refuse to waste the pain. I want his death to make a difference for others. That is what you will find at a Survivors gathering. People who know the most excruciating pain of suicide loss, and yet somehow move through their grief with actions like volunteering, speaking out or supporting others. The most important gift anyone can give to support a person grieving the loss of a loved by suicide is to listen. Listen without judgement, for the stigma of suicide is real and painful. Listen without trying to fix someone or give pat answers. Grief is part of the journey towards healing. Be a friend.
“Friendship is the best medicine.”
– Patch Adams
Attending a support group can continue the healing journey. There are two active groups in New Mexico and the Albuquerque chapter has a virtual component so you can receive support no matter where you are in the state.
- Survivors of Suicide ABQ – www.sosabq.org In person and virtual meetings. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for link.
- Survivors of Suicide Santa Fe – email@example.com
Present Breaking the Silence NM lessons for youth on mental illness and suicide: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read more about being a long-term survivor of suicide loss here: