International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
Author: Carla Stumpf Patton
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, also known as ISOSLD or Survivor Day, is on Saturday, November 21, 2020, and is intended to be a day of healing throughout the world, where all those impacted by suicide loss can connect around the lives of their loved ones and the experiences of hope, support, and encouragement.
According to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (or AFSP), observance of this event "began in 1999 when Senator Harry Reid (also a suicide loss survivor) introduced a resolution for the Saturday before Thanksgiving to be known as “National Survivors of Suicide Day”—an occasion for families and friends of people who died by suicide to join together for healing and support. The day was designated by the United States Congress and was chosen because the holidays are often a difficult time for loss survivors. With the World Health Organization reporting approximately 800,000 people dying by suicide each year, it soon became clear there was a global need for this observance, which is now officially called "International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day".
This can be a powerful day of healing for those impacted by suicide loss and many survivors who participate find a deep connection with others who have had similar experiences, thus discovering they are not alone. Finding a host site or nearby event can help you connect to survivors in your community and learn about local resources for coping and healing through suicide loss. This day can offer new insights about how fellow survivors are helping to bring about positive change for those who have endured loss by suicide, as well as helping to save lives from suicide.
AFSP supports hundreds of community events worldwide on this day. In 2019, 417 total events took place, including 49 international sites in 26 countries. Historically, event sites are individualized and feature an AFSP-produced documentary that offers encouragement around growth, resilience, and connection. Events for this year's International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day will be organized differently where many are offered virtually along with survivor engagement opportunities.
Talking about suicide and being able to process the grief in a safe setting can be instrumental in the healing process. We encourage you to participate or learn more about the program. To learn more about the Survivor Day event, view previous documentaries, or find a host location or chapter near you, please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.
If you have endured the suicide loss of a military service member, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors is here to offer help at 1-800-959-TAPS (8277) or visit: www.taps.org/suicide.
Dr. Carla Stumpf Patton is TAPS Senior Director of Suicide Postvention Programs and surviving spouse of D.I. Sgt. Richard Stumpf, USMC.