Family and friends come together on World Suicide Prevention Day

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. (WNEM) – Family and friends of those killed in suicide gathered at the Bavarian Inn for the “Hope Starts Here” conference.

“It’s just a beautiful day, a wonderful event, surrounded by love and hope and care and so much compassion in the room,” said Julie Hart, who lost her uncle to suicide.

The event was held for the International Day of Survivors of Suicide.

Hope Starts Here organizer Barb Smith says: ‚ÄúThere are events like this all over the world. So this is our local event called Hope starts here is for everyone who has been affected by suicide in a place to bring people together to let them know they are not alone in their grief journey.”

The annual event hosted by the Barb Smith Resource and Response Network featured guest speakers and more than a dozen vendors offering resources to help those grieving or dealing with the loss of a loved one.

“We have a group of families who have lost someone to suicide to talk about what their grief journey was like and really the message of hope,” says Smith.

Organizers say suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-22. And for every death by suicide, there are 120-135 people who have been exposed to someone who has died by suicide.

“We have 1,400 deaths by suicide in Michigan, you know, that’s a lot of people that have been affected by that fight alone. And suffering alone, you know, we don’t want to talk about it because sometimes it can cause shame or guilt or, you know, just that lack of understanding,” Smith says.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2020, more than 45,000 people died by suicide in the United States; that’s 1 death every 11 minutes and that same year 1.2 million adults have attempted suicide.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the Suicide and Crisis Helpline on 988.

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