OSWEGO — The Oswego County Suicide Prevention Coalition will host a virtual survivor’s day commemoration this weekend alongside other local likeminded groups for an event designed to comfort families affected by suicide.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, with officials and community members meeting in a Zoom conference to mark International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.
“It’s an intimate, comforting platform for survivors to come and share their experiences,” Suicide Prevention Coalition Manager Kerri Green said.
On the schedule of events is the screening of a suicide awareness documentary titled “Pathways to Healing”, a spiritual candle lighting, exercises working with sand, talks amongst survivors led by trained social workers and more.
“It’s people telling their stories, it’s informational, it’s uplifting at times, it's sad, but it's allowing people to know they are not alone,” Green said.
The Oswego County Suicide Prevention Coalition (OCSC) is a community-based organization founded in 2016. Officials say its mission is to collaborate with local community members to promote suicide prevention resources, raise awareness and provide support to decrease the suicide rate in Oswego County.
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day (ISSD) was founded in 1999 by an act of Congress to recognize suicide as a national problem. Now-retired Nevada Senator Harry Reid introduced the resolution to create the ISSD on behalf of suffering families as a result of the long-serving Democrat losing his father to suicide in 1972.
Resolution 99 designated a day in November to commemorate “National Survivors for Prevention of Suicide Day” (NSPSD). Congress unanimously passed the legislation on Sept. 24, 1999. Since 1999, officials have formatted their calendars to hold ISSD on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
The title was changed from NSPSD to ISSD to increase its global reach after the World Health Organization reported that more than 800,000 deaths are attributed to suicide internationally.
The Saturday event is free and all are invited, Green said.
“(Guests) will get resources and information if they need to contact someone or if they’re struggling,” Green said.
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day was originally planned to take place at Elim Grace church in Oswego but recent aggressive efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 forced it online. Participants are asked to come prepared if they desire to join in some of the planned activities: a mason jar, ribbons and decorative materials, an index card, a real or fake candle, crayons, permanent markers and glue are all recommended.
In a ceremony familiar to anyone who has attended a suicide prevention or memorial event, candles will be lit to represent the spirit of loved ones lost too soon.
Organizations slated to be present at the event are representatives of Oswego Hospital Behavioral Health Services and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“A group of great people will be a part of this, people from different coalitions, different groups all coming together to put this on for the community,” Green said.
Professional social workers will be part of the speaking program, according to Green. Individuals who do not feel comfortable sharing their stories out loud are still encouraged to attend.