Suicide hasn't touched my life, but it has touched my heart. I started this site to encourage self-love, love for others, and love for life. What I never thought about were the "Survivors of Suicide."
It sounds like an oxymoron, Survivors of Suicide, until you've walked the Out of the Darkness community walk, with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Seeing the faces of family and friends, who have lost someone to suicide, makes "Survivor of Suicide" sound like an understatement to a "survivors" reality. Suicide affects all of us- touches all of us. It's not an isolated death. It has rippling and painful effects for those who "survive".
Suicide affects all of us- touches all of us. It's not an isolated death. It has rippling and painful effects for those who "survive".
Approaching the opening ceremony for the walk the air was buzzing with a Sarah McLachlan sound, and library quietness. We were greeted in quiet tones, and ushered over to the check in booth and stations that were set up with different activities to help us honor memories of loved ones lost.
At the Honor beads tent, we chose Honor beads that signified our tie to the cause. The idea behind the beads was to give us something on the outside that says me too. I know. I understand. I wish. White - Lost a Child, Red - Lost a Spouse or Partner, Gold- Lost a Parent, Orange- Lost a Sibling, Purple - Lost a Relative or Friend, Silver - Lost First Responder / Military, Green - Struggled Personally, Blue - Support the Cause.
We chose blue.
As we looked around we began to see the ways in which suicide and prolonged feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy have affected us and the ones we love.
Suicide is at the heart of the Unbelievably Human mission. UH was created to take a stand with millennials, who for any reason fell out of love with life, with others and themselves. Who felt like the only outlet to the increasing pressure of life was resolved by leaving life. We wanted to offer a safe place to be honest and to work out the tough feelings through self-expression and the arts in order to find again our love for life, for others and for self.
Expression and art were happening all around us. Notes being written on balloons, love messages with sidewalk chalk, hope being painted on canvases, and memorials of pictures and letters being curated. As tears fell still laughter erupted. As shoulders became heavy and necks slumped, hands where grasps and arms engulfed. Though the feeling was somber there was an overwhelming sense of community and understanding. This evoked a certain safety and beauty that can only be felt in the company of people who share similar stories.
We all had balloons that we held throughout the opening ceremony. They went with us everywhere. On them were the messages to those we've lost to suicide and messages of truth. At the closing of the opening ceremony we released our balloons into the sky; feeling as though we were sending mail to the ones we'd said goodbye to but never stopped loving.
At the conclusion of the opening ceremony we lined up for the walk and walked and talked and found the ability to laugh. This was for me and for others their first walk and for others their 5th. Families, associations and sports teams all walked for loved ones they'd lost 3 months ago to loved ones they lost almost 5 years ago or more. It was a testament that love never dies and that the ones left behind don't just move on with life.
The day ended with celebration of life with pizza and live band. It was an encouragement to continue to hope to keep memories alive and to live life with a greater sense of the humanity around us in our normal day to day life.
Has your life been affected by suicide? Or do you know someone's life that has been affected? Share with us in the comments any insight you have gained from the experience.
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