Those affected by suicide loss come together for Survivor Day

By Ellen Rossow

   rossowel@mnstate.edu

For years, the Saturday before Thanksgiving has been observed as a day of healing, community, and hope.

National Survivor of Suicide Day was established in 1999 as a day for those struggling with grief due to suicide. A collaboration with the American Federation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP) has allowed Survivor Day to grow into a worldwide event.

A local Survivor Day event will take place Saturday afternoon at the Ecce Gallery in Fargo, thanks to ASFP’s ND chapter. The group was founded by Brenda Weiler and her mother after they suffered a loss due to suicide in their immediate family.

Knowing the struggle of the loss of a loved one to suicide, Weiler believes Survivor Day offers just what is needed in the world today.

According to Weiler, the event is intended to be a “healing conference” for “anyone who has been touched personally by suicide.”

At this year’s event, a film titled “The Journey” will be screened for attendees. This documentary was produced by ASFP to inspire hope.

“It’s a powerful film that shows how each survivor is weathering the loss of a loved one, and how they are finding their way back to a life rich in meaning— and even joy,” the Survivor Day website reads.

The screening is timed worldwide, so everyone participating in the event experiences it together. There are also options for live screening of Survivor Day events online at survivorday.org.

“All over the world, everyone is watching it at the same time,” Weiler said.

The sense of community this establishes is something Weiler thinks is especially important and unique about Survivor Day. 

“So many people are dealing with this,” she said.

Though the event occurs worldwide, it is intended to provide an intimate environment for survivors in attendance. This intimacy allows attendees to open up and make connections with fellow survivors, Weiler said.

The event will also include hands-on activities and healing projects.

ASFP will also be offering resources for attendees of the event. A mental health professional will speak to attendees, and information on financial support, grief during the holiday season, and other concerns surrounding mental illness and depression will be provided. ASFP also has information about its two local support groups for those in need.

The Saturday event spans from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Ecce Gallery in downtown Fargo.

While this event is geared specifically for those personally affected by suicide, ASFP offers events for the general public as well.

ASFP strives to make sure the once-taboo topic of suicide continues to be talked about, researched, and advocated for. Their Out of the Darkness Walks are held year-round all over the United States. The most recent walk in Fargo took place in late September, and had nearly 1,100 attendees.

With more than 60 chapters nationwide, ASFP is available to anyone.

For more information about upcoming walks or other ASFP events anywhere, visit ASFP.org. The website also offers resources for those struggling with suicide in any way. If you or someone you know is in crisis please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For anyone personally affected by suicide in any way, Weiler has one thing to say: “You are not alone.”

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