The American Association of Suicidology has set Sept. 9-15 as Suicide Prevention Week. AAS data show that suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States and the third-leading cause of death for people 15-24 years old. The latest statistics show that almost 37,000 people in the United States die by suicide each year, with 490 of these in Louisiana and 43 in East Baton Rouge Parish.
In this writing, when I refer to “survivors of suicide,” (SOS) I am referring to people whose lives have been significantly impacted by the loss of a loved one, friend, co-worker, etc. to suicide.
Research by AAS shows that a person who has lost a loved one to suicide is nine times more likely than the general public to die themselves by suicide if they don’t address the issue in a healthy manner.
Survivors of suicide in Baton Rouge are truly blessed to have the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center and its free SOS support group available. I have suffered the loss of two family members to suicide and would hate to think of where I’d be without the group.
My family did not learn of the SOS group until about six months after my son’s death on Aug. 11, 1994. Once I began attending the Tuesday night meetings, I knew I would survive my grief and once again find happiness in life.
The first night, “Jim,” who had lost his son to suicide many years before, was co-facilitating the group. Jim was a longtime volunteer at the BRCIC and established the SOS group in 1981. He was such an inspiration of hope for me as he talked openly about his loss. I was allowed to — in fact encouraged — to talk openly about my losses.
When I felt I had healed enough to help others, I became a co-facilitator for the group. During the last 18 years I have seen hundreds of survivors come into the group. They come in broken and devastated by their loss, and leave the group months or even years later happy to be alive, enjoying life and with a better understanding of what they have been through.
The group, known by professional suicidologist as a “postvention,” is indeed prevention for the future. It is never too soon or too late to begin attending the group. Survivors have come in as soon as a few days after their loss, and as long as 20 years after their loss.
I strongly urge any survivor of suicide who has not addressed the issue of their loss in a healthy manner to contact Dr. Margo Abadie at the BRCIC at (225) 924-1431 for more information.
retired marketing director