B y Krystle S. Morey

This Saturday is Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, a nationally recognized day for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
On this day, those affected by suicide will gather together at several events across the country.
The goal of the events is to have those “people affected by suicide loss gather at events in their local communities to find comfort and gain understanding as they share stories of healing and hope,” according to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.
One of those events is being hosted locally. The Robert M. King Funeral Home has teamed up with the AFSP to host a program at 26 Main Street in Granville from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 19.
The program includes a screening of the documentary “Life Journeys: Reclaiming Life After Loss.”
Mary King, of Robert M. King Funeral Home, said she learned about the Suicide Loss Day events at a New York State Funeral Directors Association convention.
“I was intrigued and made a decision that we needed to be involved,” she said.
King, who is often one of the first people contacted by the family when there is a loss, said deaths by suicide have been on the rise in this area in the last five years.
“We have served nine families in that timeframe who have experienced this type of loss,” she said. “That’s a lot for a small town.”
She added: “Living and working in a small, rural area means that we personally know the deceased and their families.”
PTSD-related suicide has claimed the highest number, King said. “… and the others we may never know,” she said.
“All deaths put families through a trying time, but accidental, suicide or other unexpected deaths are much more trying,” King added.
Though she has never experienced a suicide firsthand, King is always compassionate and caring when trying to help families begin the difficult journey of grief.
“I … feel limited when it comes to helping someone,” she said. “I always advise the family that while I am ready to listen and give advice, I cannot say I have been where they are. Only someone who has walked in those shoes can truly understand.”
That’s why King wanted to bring the Suicide Loss Day event to this area.
Across the nation Saturday, when people enter the event, they will be given a color-coded bottle of sand. Each color will represent how each individual was affected by suicide – if they lost a friend, family member, etc.
That way, when they walk in the room, they immediately see others they can identify with, King said.
“We are sponsoring this event to connect families with others who are on the same path. Whenever we can help families make an important connection such as this, we are taking our jobs to the next level,” she added.
Part of the program will recognize each attendee’s loved one who was lost to suicide. When they are discussed, that person’s living friends and family will dump their sand together into a basin. Then they will refill their small bottles with the multicolored mixture of sand, to represent the life lost.
“We are looking forward to this event and hope to be a part of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention for many years to come,” King said.
Other area events are being hosted at the Crandall Library in Glens Falls (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and the Four Winds Hospital in Saratoga Springs (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
Pre-registration is requested for all events. For a list of other Suicide Loss Day events and to register, visit afsp.org/find-support/ive-lost-someone/survivor-day.

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