Family and friends gather for the International Day of Survivors of Suicide

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. (WNEM) – Family and friends of those who have committed suicide gathered at Bavarian In for the “Hope Starts Here” conference.

“It’s just a beautiful day, a wonderful event, where you’re surrounded by love, hope, compassion and so much empathy in the room,” says Julie Hart, who lost her nephew to suicide.

The event took place on the occasion of the International Day of Survivors of Suicide.

Hope Starts Here Conference Chair Barb Smith says, “There are events like this all over the world. So this is our local event called Hope Starts Here, for everyone who has been affected by suicide in a place to bring people together and let them know they are not alone on their journey of grieving. .

The annual event hosted by the Barb Smith Resource and Response Network featured guest speakers and more than a dozen providers offering resources to help those grieving or coping with the loss of loved ones.

“We have a panel of families who have lost someone to suicide to talk about what their journey of grieving was like and really the message of hope,” Smith says.

Organizers say suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 22. And for every death by suicide, there are 120 to 135 people who have been exposed to someone who has committed suicide.

“We have 1400 suicide deaths in Michigan, you know, that’s a lot of people who have been affected by this struggle alone. And suffer alone because, you know, we don’t want to talk about it because sometimes it can bring shame or guilt or you know, just kind of a lack of understanding,” Smith explains.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2020 more than 45,000 people died by suicide in the United States; that’s 1 death every 11 minutes, and in the same year 1.2 million adults attempted suicide.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline on 988.


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