International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day: How We Can Become Beacons of Self-Compassion and Support
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is a day that allows people that have lost someone to suicide to gather together to share their memories, struggles and journey to rediscovering hope after loss. This special day finds its roots in the United States of America, when Senator Harry Reid lost his father to suicide in 1999. This led him to establish Senate Resolution 99, which officially designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving as the chosen day for awareness.
In the Philippines, much stigma surrounds the topic of mental health, with suicide being no exception. This is largely due to the traditional norms of a predominantly Catholic nation, with the perception that suicide is a grave sin against God. These opinions however cannot deny the prevalence of suicide in the country, further exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic: the latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released in July 2021 showed that death caused by self-harm increased in 2020 by 57% compared to 2019.
There are a few simple yet helpful ways you can practice self-compassion as you go through this intense and complicated grieving process. Understand that there is no timeline for grief. While it is good to open up, don’t feel obliged to be vulnerable before you are ready. You can start by writing down how you feel in a journal. This activity can help you acknowledge and process your emotions better. When the time comes that you decide to share your thoughts and feelings, confide in people you trust and feel you can speak to in a non-judgmental space.
If you have not had to experience losing someone to suicide, there are still ways we can extend our hands in support of these survivors. Show your support by validating their feelings: you can say something like, “I know this is a very difficult time for you, and I am really sorry for your loss. But I admire that you are finding a way to get through this process, and I want you to know that I’ll be here for you when things get difficult.” When someone is going through something as painful as grief, they may feel disoriented and out of balance in their day-to-day responsibilities. Offer a helping hand to help them accomplish simple tasks. You may also direct them towards grief counsellors or psychologists that can offer professional support and provide your loved one with healthy coping mechanisms. Always bear in mind that grief takes time and loss can change people, so we must learn to understand, empathize and respect every unique journey.
For the survivors of suicide loss, the team at Mind You prays that you find peace and enlightenment, while still being able to cherish the memories of your loved ones that have passed. It is one thing to lose someone in a lifetime, but quite another to lose a loved one in this way, and to be unable to speak about it openly due to the stigma that surrounds suicide in the country. Brene Brown once said: “When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity.” There is so much more to be gained in a country that openly speaks about struggles because in that recognition and vulnerability, knowledge and strength can sprout.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please direct them these free-to-call and anonymous help hotlines:
Mind You aims to transform our culture and empower people to take control of their mental health and live more fulfilled lives. We take pride in lifting away the stigma, lowering counseling costs and providing increased access to mental health care for all Filipinos.
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Sandra Oledan Rodriguez
Marketing Communications Manager