Suicide Loss: A Survivor’s Story

It was Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, 1997. I was 17-years-old, an only child growing up in a middle-class suburban neighborhood. I had just finished my first year at a local community college. I knew I was not ready to go away to college; I had not declared a major yet, but was that the real reason? Looking back now, I realize that there was more that impacted my decision to stay home during my freshman year of college, and thank God I did. It was early that Monday morning, and I was at my mother's house, attempting to sleep in and get some much-needed rest. The house phone rang, waking me up. "Hello?" No one answered. Again, I asked, "Hello?" Still nothing.  I hung up the phone and attempted to fall back asleep. Five minutes later, the phone rang again. "Hello?" No answer. "Hello?" Silence. Again, I hung up the phone and fell back to sleep. An hour or so had passed, and the phone rang again. I was annoyed this time. I picked up the phone, but before I could even say hello, I heard my Grandmother on the other line, and she sounded worried.  She asked if I had seen or heard from my dad this morning. She said he had gone out for a walk a [...]

2021-01-02T15:40:51-05:00November 20th, 2020|Suicide Prevention|

Lived Experience

Author: Hunter Robbins, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) September is National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. This is a time to highlight the work being done to prevent suicide, spread awareness about helpful initiatives, and share resources within our communities. It is also a time to remember the importance of those with lived experience. Lived experience as it pertains to suicide usually means one of two things: either you have lost someone to suicide (a survivor of suicide), or you have attempted suicide yourself and survived. Unfortunately, when we talk about suicide, those with lived experience are often left out of the conversation. Being a survivor of any traumatic experience is not easy. In 2018, there were 48,433 Americans who died by suicide, and a staggering 1.4 million who attempted suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. To add to that, studies show that for every death by suicide, there are up to 135 people who can be affected by it. This means that in 2018, up to 8 million people could be considered to have lived experience. Why is it important to highlight lived experience? Studies show that after an individual dies by suicide, there could be a significant increase of suicide risk for close friends and family. There is [...]

2020-09-09T15:04:45-04:00September 9th, 2020|Suicide Prevention|

Transgender Day of Remembrance

In memory of loved ones lost to acts of anti-transgender violence. Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.  Additionally, during the week of November 13-19, people and organizations around the country participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender people and address the issues trans people face.  Along with honoring the memory of those lost to acts of anti-transgender violence, the transgender community is also honoring long time community organizer for TDOR, Dawn Munro who passed away last month. This year, we are bringing attention to transmen who have died by suicide, such as comedian Daphne Dorman. On a national level, 40% of transgender adults report having made a suicide attempt.  92% of these individuals report having attempted suicide before the age of 25, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 trans or non-binary youth have made a suicide attempt (Trevor Project). Compared to the general youth population, attempts are higher among trans youth in the US (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) 19% of all teens have seriously considered suicide 15% have made a plan to attempt suicide 8% have attempted suicide 2.5% have been injured by a suicide attempt. This study found that transgender youth [...]

2019-11-20T01:01:45-05:00November 20th, 2019|LGBTQIA, Suicide Prevention|

How to Talk to a Suicide Loss Survivor

Talking to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide is challenging to say the least. It presents challenges beyond the discomfort we commonly feel in the presence of grief. Despite our hearts being in the right place, the eagerness to comfort someone may mistakenly cause us to say something hurtful. The fear of compounding the loss survivor’s pain by saying the wrong thing may cause us to avoid those who are grieving. Let them know about the Suicide Loss Support Groups that happen throughout the month in our area. And below are some tips from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on navigating conversations with suicide loss survivors in a kind, thoughtful, and responsible way: “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you.” Suicide loss is complicated, devastating, dumbfounding. There are no easy answers and no easy fixes. Be a patient, nonjudgmental listener. Be a safe place for the loss survivor to give voice to their anger, frustration, fear, relief, sadness, or any other emotion they may feel.  Or just be there with them – the reassuring presence of someone who cares may offer a lot of solace. Refrain from saying, “I understand what you’re going through.” Because suicide loss is not like other losses, you cannot truly understand how the loss survivor is feeling. [...]

2019-09-10T13:50:25-04:00September 10th, 2019|Awareness, Depression, Suicide Prevention, Support|
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