Suicide is not a foreign concept to most people. The vast majority of people on earth know of a loved one, friend, or someone in their community who succumbed to the stresses and challenges of life and resorted to suicide as a means of escape. These abrupt losses can be devastating to the survivors, and many have trouble coping, understanding the reasons, and getting some form of closure. This leads to many survivors blaming themselves and others around them, and in certain cases may lead some people to also end their own lives out of stress.
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day happens annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and falls on the 18th of November this year. This day encourages survivors to join in celebrating their loved one’s lives, healing from the pain and loss, and encouraging those suffering from mental health issues as well as other conditions to seek help and support.
History of International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
Suicide has been viewed differently over time, and has been both frowned upon and encouraged depending on the location and the religion of the society. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity firmly disapprove of suicide, but the Brahmans of India turn a blind eye towards it. In ancient Greece, people who were convicted of crimes were allowed to take their own lives making suicide acceptable on a conditional basis.
People’s perceptions of suicide have shifted over time. Taking one’s own life has been both condoned and condemned, depending on the religion and the location of the society. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are firmly against it, though the Brahmans of India tolerate it. People convicted of crimes in ancient Greece were permitted to off themselves as an alternative.
As a part of Japanese history, one of the most famous forms of suicide is seppuku (cutting the belly). This ritualistic suicide was practiced by the samurai, the warrior class of feudal Japan, and was considered an honorable way to die, rather than falling into enemy hands or bringing shame to oneself or one’s family.
During the Middle Ages, western society used canon law followed by criminal law in an attempt to decrease suicide rates. These laws’ effects on society were minimal and suicide rates remained the same. Following the 1789 French Revolution, criminal penalties for suicide attempts were abolished for European countries, though England didn’t join until 1961.
United States suicide rates hardly changed from 1950 to 1980, but suicide rates among younger people increased drastically. Young white males aged 15 to 19 were the most affected, increasing by 305%, and white males aged 20 to 24 increased by 196%.
This led to US Senator Harry Reid in 1999 introducing a resolution that created International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. Reid lost his father to suicide in 1972, so this cause was very dear to him. This resolution was then designated to Congress and placed before Thanksgiving since the holiday season can be especially hard for survivors. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) supports Survivors Day events all over the world and the peace that it helps bring.
How Can You Observe International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day?
Whether or not you have been affected personally by the suicide of a loved one, you can participate in Survivors Day. This is a day for healing and support which you can observe by doing the following:
These events take place in communities all over the world and see survivors of suicide loss share their stories, find resources, and connect with others who understand their pain and loss. You can easily find an event near you by visiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) website. Some of these events screen documentaries, movies, and testimonials about coping with suicide after a shared loss.
If you want to shun the crowds and prefer talking to someone one-on-one, you can request a Healing Conversation from the AFSP. This is a free service that will connect you with a trained volunteer who is also a suicide loss survivor. You can opt for a phone conversation, video call, or in-person discussion. Find a local support group or a therapist who specializes in grief and trauma.
Make sure you practice self-care, both for your mental and physical health as grieving can take a serious toll on you. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and do things that bring you joy and fulfillment. Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga to cope with stress and anxiety.
There are many different ways in which you can remember and celebrate the life of your loved one. Make a scrapbook, light a candle, write a letter, plant a tree, or donate to a cause. You can also share your feelings and memories with others who know them.
Use your story and your voice to help others who are struggling with mental health issues, suicidal thoughts, or the loss of a loved one. You can volunteer for suicide prevention organizations, join advocacy efforts, participate in research, or educate others about the indicators and risk factors of suicide. Use social media to spread messages of hope and healing and to show your support for other survivors.
The Importance of International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is a special day for people who have lost someone to suicide. This is a day to reminisce, to heal, and to connect with others who share this painful experience.
There are three main reasons that this day has such a high significance, namely:
- Remembering the victims
Dealing with a loved one’s untimely death is hard enough, and suicide just adds to the pain and confusion. Survivors Day helps you to remember the good times and memories that you made with your loved one, rather than just focusing on the way that they passed on. Clutching onto good memories is a positive and healthy coping mechanism and allows us to honor them without guilt.
- The survivors need attention
The entire community is affected when someone takes their own life. Family, friends, and colleagues have to confront their feelings and process their emotions regarding the loss. Survivors Day provides resources for everyone to attain a level of closure and get through life easier.
- It connects us
Suffering such an abrupt and devasting loss at times makes us feel isolated and sad and hinders us from looking past our pain. Suicide is still associated with a large amount of social stigma, and you may feel like you cannot reach out for help for fear of being judged or ridiculed. Survivors Day reminds us all that suicide is a global issue and that none of us need to suffer alone.
Adler Health Can Assist with Your Mental Health Conditions
Mental health issues are one of the leading causes of suicide in the United States. The stigma surrounding mental health conditions and seeing “shrinks” can make many people feel isolated and afraid to stand out from the crowd and be perceived as crazy. Mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of, and more people suffer from some sort of mental health problem than is normally thought.
Adler Health is a treatment facility that is ready and willing to help you or your loved one overcome mental health issues. Many of these conditions can be eradicated with professional help, and all it takes is for you to make that first step down the recovery road to regain control over your life. Contact us today and speak with our admissions team about a facility tour, enroll in one of our extensive programs, or find out more about the services we offer.