International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
Author: Carla Stumpf Patton
Saturday, November 18, 2023, is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day (also referred to as ISOSLD or Survivor Day). It is acknowledged as a day of healing throughout the world where all those impacted by suicide loss can connect, honor the lives of their loved ones, and share experiences of support, encouragement, and hope.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (or AFSP), observance of ISOSLD began in 1999 when Senator Harry Reid, who lost his father to suicide, introduced a resolution to the United States Senate. Known at the time as "Survivor Day," Congress designated it as a day for those who were affected by suicide to come together for healing and support. It was determined that Survivor Day would always fall on the Saturday before Thanksgiving since the holidays are often a difficult time for suicide-loss survivors. With input from survivors throughout the years, it became clear that there was a need for this special day of observance.
The day is intended to be one of healing through peer support, where those who are bereaved by suicide loss can come together with others who have had similar experiences and see firsthand that they are not alone. Finding a nearby event can help you connect to survivors in your community and learn about local resources for coping and healing through suicide loss. Attending an event can help us navigate our growth post-loss, show us how fellow suicide-loss survivors are contributing to positive change, and teach us about initiatives to help save lives from suicide.
To learn how suicide-loss survivors may be connecting in your area, you can search for events by U.S. state or territory at your local American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) chapter page or view the list of host registration sites. These events feature resources that offer encouragement around growth, resilience, and connection, along with engagement opportunities in hundreds of communities worldwide. Please note that most events are for those who are 18 and older, but your local organizer can answer questions about a specific event.
Talking about suicide and being able to process grief in a safe, trusted setting can be instrumental in the healing process, and survivors who are seeking support are encouraged to consider participating. To learn more about Survivor Day events being offered near you, ways to connect with AFSP chapters near you, and additional community resources, please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) website.
If you have endured the suicide loss of a military service member, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is here to offer help and support, 24/7, at 1-800-959-TAPS (8277) or online at taps.org/suicide. You can also access the free TAPS resource, From Grief to Growth: Healing After a Suicide Loss, in English or Spanish.
If you or someone you know is in emotional crisis or thinking of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 (Veterans, Press 1), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
Dr. Carla Stumpf Patton is TAPS Senior Director of Suicide Prevention and Postvention Programs and surviving spouse of D.I. Sgt. Richard Stumpf, USMC.