By Bob ReinertNovember 14, 2008
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Those who have lost loved ones to suicide need support, information and healing.
They can find those tools for coping with loss Nov. 22 at National Survivors of Suicide Day.
NSSD events are taking place at more than 165 sites around the country, including Tacoma. They will allow survivors to connect with one another and share their experiences.
For those unable to attend, a 90-minute broadcast will be available online from 10 to 11:30 a.m. PST at www.afsp.org/survivorday.
A live online chat will take place after the program.
"NSSD events ... are special places where those who are suffering the loss of a loved one from suicide can go and perhaps help gain strength to go on in life themselves," said Gary Ouellette, suicide prevention coordinator for I Corps and Fort Lewis. "The fact of knowing you are not alone in your grief for a loved one sometimes helps a little. You can give support to others who, in turn, support you."
As Ouellette pointed out, a great deal of help is available for suicide survivors.
"There is never closure when it comes to a loss from suicide," Ouellette said. "You learn how to go on with your life. This event helps to make that happen for those who have suffered a loss from suicide."
According to Ouellette, more than 800 people in Washington state die each year by suicide, and Soldiers are among them. They leave behind friends and family members who wonder why this happened and how they can cope with the loss.
"This is an event where loved ones can go to heal the pain they carry," said Ouellette of the NSSD conference. "Two candles are usually used during this event. Both are lit, and one is blown out at the beginning of the event, representing the loss of life that has happened - gone but never forgotten."
Attending the NSSD events helps him with his work in suicide prevention, Ouellette said.
"For the past few years, I've attended these events," Ouellette said. "And I remember the Soldiers we have lost to suicide on our installation."
Bob Reinert is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.