More than one million people worldwide will commit suicide this year. Approximately 30 will be here in San Luis Obispo County.
The devastated family and friends they leave behind will experience a wide range of reactions, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP):
The AFSP explains that these feelings usually diminish over time as survivors develop their abilities to cope and begin to heal. Many survivors struggle to understand the reason for the suicide. They replay their loved one’s last days and wonder where they could have intervened.
Statistics show that 90 percent of suicide victims have diagnosable psychiatric disorders at the time of their death, the most common being depression or bipolar disorder. Just as people die from heart disease or cancer, they can also die as a consequence of mental illness.
Psychologists Bob Baugher and Jack Jordan, authors of “After Suicide Loss: Coping With Your Grief,” write: “Once a person has decided to end his or her life, there are limits to how much anyone can do to stop the act. ... In fact, people sometimes find a way to kill themselves even when hospitalized in locked psychiatric units under careful supervision. In light of this fact, try to be realistic about how preventable the suicide was and how much you could have done to intervene.”
To address the needs of local survivors, Hospice of San Luis Obispo County will participate in the 14th Annual International Survivors of Suicide Day on Nov. 17.
A two-part workshop begins at 10 a.m. when the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention presents an educational video about coping with suicide-related grief. A Q&A forum hosted by Hospice SLO counselor Anthony Huffaker will follow. (People who are unable to attend the screening can stream the DVD portion online at AFSP.org.) The second part of the program begins at 1:30 p.m. and consists of an Art Therapy Workshop lead by Anne Kellogg.
For more information or to reserve your space, call Anthony Huffaker at 805-544-2266.
Coping advice from suicide survivors: