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Survivor Day: a time to reflect and heal together

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 11:17 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Saturday, November 20 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. On this day, survivors come together to find connection, understanding, support and hope through shared experience. Survivor Day is a time to reflect on loss and recuperation. It is a day dedicated to healing for those who have lost someone to suicide.

“Survivor Day is an opportunity for a community of folks who’ve experienced loss to come together and heal, recuperate and share in memories together,” said mother & event coordinator Jeriel Clark. “And also find positive ways to connect in a time and especially time of year when people are getting ready to travel and go spend time with loved ones and family. To find their own community and share in space and time together to heal and reflect on loved ones that have been lost.”

Some people after losing a loved one to suicide, go into isolation or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Survivor Day is a chance to connect with others, share memories, and find healing resources together, even if that means sitting in silence with others to reflect together.

“We don’t realize how much it affects us,” said Counselor & Event Coordinator Alicia Huff. “Not only once it happens but also the aftermath. Again, a lot of people don’t have those skills of how do you cope with the new norm. That’s really what survivor day is about, coming together and reminding each other that we heal through connectiveness versus isolation. I know that for me personally that’s what I wanted to do afterwards is isolate because I didn’t know what to do with that feeling and it was uncomfortable.”

According to the CDC, less than 50% of suicidal thinking is related to mental illness. In fact, more than 20% comes from a physical health problem.

“I’m an attempt survivor,” said community organizer and attempt survivor Caleb Ferganchick. “I grew up queer here on the western slope in a rural town. I think as a community, especially queer youth experience suicidal ideation at a four times higher rate than the general population. I have learned that speaks to suicide not being directly tied to mental illness. There are a host of factors. Cultural factors, socioeconomic factors. So I think we try to treat suicidal ideation with a one size fits all, but the reality is, the factors that cause suicidal ideation are a lot more complex.”

Across Western Colorado, communities experience this loss at a heightened level comparatively. There is a 3K walk event Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Tranquillo Shelter at Las Colonias Park located at 1601 Riverfront Drive in Grand Junction. They will have booths with resources, healing art and activities specifically to help people heal to learn positive ways to understand, process, and work through their grief.

“We experience that grief very individually & we process that grief individually,” said Ferganchick. “But there aren’t spaces within our society at large where we’re allowed to process that grief together because there’s still so much shame centered around it. So I think survivor day is also a place for everyone to come together and create space to heal as a community.”

If you would like to come to this event but cannot make it, a list of resources will be available on the ‘Postvention’ Facebook page found here: https://www.facebook.com/postventionalliance/

If you or a loved one are in crisis or struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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