On a cold Saturday morning folks gathered in Heritage Hall at First Presbyterian Church in Bend to mark a solemn day.
They’re part of a group that no one wants to be a member of, brought together by the loss of someone they know who died by suicide.
“It’s a very difficult grief to get through,” said Leanna Leyes.
Leyes and the others were marking the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.
“I lost my son in 2014 to suicide, and I’ve done a lot of community events and teaching and that sort of thing. I want people to know that they’re not alone, that you can get through this,” said Leyes who was volunteering at the event.
The Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance along with Deschutes County Health Services sponsored the event, which included a screening of a documentary produced by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and discussion groups for those dealing with loss.
“It helps me to be able to help others. I found that the more that I connect with others, the better that I do,” said Leyes.
“It’s just it’s a very moving day, but it’s also a very healing day,” said Caroline Suiter who coordinates suicide prevention programs with Deschutes County Public Health.
In 1999 Congress designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving as a day for those affected by suicide to gather together for healing and support, it’s sometime referred to as Survivor Day.
“It’s a journey. And it has its ups and downs. It can it can look different year to year. So kind of keeping in mind your own personal signs when you may need more supports and going to events like this or connecting with any of the resources we list off is always good, even if the loss was ten or twenty years ago,” said Suiter.
“Being able to connect with someone who’s actually been through it is so incredibly helpful,” added Leyes.
If you, or someone you know, is in crisis or struggling with thoughts of suicide you can dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Help is also available by calling the Deschutes Country Crisis Line at 541–322-7500 Ext 9. Both are free and confidential.
You can also find more information on suicide prevention and mental health resources here.