Family and friends gather for International Suicide Loss Day

FRANKENMUT, Mich. (WNEM) – Family and friends of those who died by suicide gathered at the Bavarian Inn for the “Hope Starts Here” conference.

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

The event was held to mark the International Day of Suicide Loss Survivors.

Hope Starts Here Conference Chair Barb Smith says: “Events like this happen all over the world. So this is our local event called Hope Begins Here for all those affected by suicide, in one place to bring people together so they know they are not alone in their journey of grief.”

The annual event, hosted by the Barb Smith Resource and Response Network, brought together guest speakers and more than a dozen vendors offering resources to help those grieving or struggling with the loss of loved ones.

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

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

“We’ve got 1,400 suicide deaths in Michigan, you know, that’s a lot of people affected by this fight alone. And suffering alone because, you know, we don’t want to talk about it, because sometimes it can bring shame or guilt, or you know, just a lack of understanding,” says Smith.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 45,000 people died by suicide in the United States in 2020; 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 at 988.

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