Vigil helps survivors cope with losing loved ones to suicide

The holidays are filled with traditions for most families. Yearly activities like opening one gift on Christmas Eve, sharing Grandma’s secret egg nog recipe and singing carols make each household’s season unique. But when a family is recovering from a loved one’s suicide, those traditions can become a time filled with grief and sadness.

The Suicide Prevention Coalition of Washington County wanted those family members to know they weren’t alone Sunday with a candlelight vigil at Muskingum Park in Marietta.

“There is a lot of stress in the holidays,” said LeeAnn Price, president of the Suicide Awareness Alliance of Washington County. “Especially for survivors of suicide. It can create a huge emptiness when the person who had been there isn’t sharing the holidays anymore.”

Price said because the holidays are a time for families and loved ones to come together and celebrate their joy for one another, the void left by the missing family member can be especially pronounced this time of year.

“We want them to know they aren’t alone in their journey, that there are people who share the same feelings that they are dealing with,” said Price.

Karen Anderson said she began volunteering with the coalition a month after she lost her father to suicide in 2015.

“I wanted to be there for families who are going through what I already have,”she said. “There are people who can help.”

Anderson said it makes a difference if someone offering help has the same frame of reference as the person grieving.

“It matters if the person they are talking to has felt the same feelings they are currently feeling,” she said.

Both Anderson and Price said the vigil was to let those people suffering with the emotions associated with being a suicide survivor know that they are not alone.

“They can take one moment at a time if they need to get through the holidays,” said Price.

“There is a life worth living (for suicide survivors),” said Anderson. “We can give you the love and support you need during these rough times.”

People struggling with surviving suicide can contact LeeAnn Price at 740-350-3365 or the Suicide Awareness Alliance of Washington County at 740-374-6990 for more information or support. If a person is having thoughts of suicide they can contact to Washington County suicide hotline at 70-373-8240, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or contact the Ohio Crisis Textline by texting “4HOPE” to 741741.