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Family and friends come together for International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

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

“It’s just a beautiful day, a wonderful event, where you’re surrounded by love and hope and caring and so much empathy in the room,” says Julie Hart who lost her nephew to suicide.

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

Hope Starts Here conference chair Barb Smith says, “There are events just like this all over the world being held. So this is our local event called Hope starts here is for anyone who has been impacted by suicide in a place to bring people together to let them know that they’re not alone in their grief journey.”

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

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

Organizers say suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in people between the ages of 10-22. And for every death to suicide there are 120-135 people who have been exposed to someone who has died by suicide.

“We have 1400 deaths to suicide in Michigan, you know, that’s a lot of people who’ve been impacted that struggle alone. And suffer alone because, you know, we don’t want to talk about it because sometimes it can bring shame or guilt or you know, just kind of that lack of understanding,” says Smith.

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

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide you can call the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988.

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