The idea behind International Survivors of Suicide Day and Valdosta Survivors of Suicide Peer2Peer’s recognition of this day later this week is to let people who have lost relatives or friends know they are not alone and to provide an event that eases the introduction to the group.
No one attending the Valdosta Survivors of Suicide Peer2Peer’s observance of International Survivors of Suicide Day will be asked to speak, or share why they are there, or say anything to anyone if they do not desire it, says Tamara Hardesty, the suicide survivor group’s facilitator.
The event will feature scheduled speakers sharing information such as resources available in the region to help people cope with their senses of guilt, anger and grief in the aftermath of suicide, and a 90-minute DVD sharing stories of people coping with the aftermath of suicide.
This event is formatted to help suicide survivors overcome the taboos associated with suicide. It will share available resources and let them know they are not alone, Hardesty says.
She understands these feelings. Hardesty is also a survivor of suicide. Her father Tom Hardesty’s death was suicide.
Earlier this year, Hardesty founded Valdosta Survivors of Suicide Peer2Peer. The group allows suicide survivors a place to discuss their experiences, the person whom they lost, and their feelings regarding the suicide. Held 8 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month, Unitarian Universalist Church, the group’s meetings also feature various featured topics. For example, how to cope with the holidays, etc.
Hardesty emphasizes that she is not a professional therapist; she is the group’s facilitator. She also stresses that this group is not for a person feeling suicidal; if a person is contemplating suicide, they should seek professional help or call a suicide prevention hotline. Valdosta Survivors of Suicide Peer2Peer is a support-type group designed specifically for people who have lost loved ones to suicide.
Hardesty realizes the importance of such a group. One helped her cope with the mixed emotions in the wake of her father’s death. She had to come to terms with her anger, shame and guilt before she could even reach the natural stage of grieving her father, of mourning and missing him. The process took months but a group similar to Valdosta Survivors of Suicide Peer2Peer helped her understand it wasn’t her fault, that she had done all she could do, and helped her start missing and appreciating the good times with her father.
Moving to Valdosta, Hardesty hoped to find a similar group here, but there wasn’t one. Living here a few years, she established Valdosta Survivors of Suicide Peer2Peer in January.
Valdosta Survivors of Suicide Peer2Peer sponsors International Survivors of Suicide Day, 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, Unitarian Universalist Church, 1951 E. Park Ave. More information on this event or the group, email Tamara Hardesty, firstname.lastname@example.org