Survivor Day Helps Suicide Loss Survivors on Healing Journey

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Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director

347-826-3577, [email protected]

Largest U.S. Suicide Prevention Organization Hosts Over 350 Events Worldwide for International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

NEW YORK (OCTOBER 5, 2016) – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, is hosting International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day events worldwide on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. Survivor Day allows people affected by suicide loss to gather around the world at events in their local communities to find comfort and gain understanding. These events are free and open to the public.

“After I lost my younger brother Raymond to suicide, I felt so alone and guilty about his death. But attending a Survivor Day event allowed me to connect with others who had lost a person close to them, and made me realize I wasn’t alone – that others understood my grief. It was incredibly healing,” said Renae Carapella-Johnson, who lost her younger brother Raymond Carapella to suicide in 2005.

Although Raymond, a consummate prankster known for his sense of humor, might have seemed a healthy high school student, his family, who knew him best, recognized that he struggled with anxiety and depression. They tried to encourage him in his interests, like watching football (the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were his favorite teams), creative writing, and cross country running. But in 2005, his life ended abruptly and all too soon. Raymond took his own life.

After Raymond’s suicide, his sister Renae felt alone and lost. It wasn’t until she found AFSP and attended her first Survivor Day event that she began to realize there were others like her, even in her own community, who had experienced a similar loss. When she connected with them at the Survivor Day event in her town, she began to consider what she could do to prevent others from experiencing this kind of grief.

All Survivor Day gatherings will include a screening of “Life Journeys: Reclaiming Life after Loss,” a new AFSP-produced Survivor Day documentary that traces the grief and healing journey that follows a suicide loss over time. Additional programming, which is specific to each event, may include presentations by loss survivors and mental health professionals, as well as small group discussions. On Survivor Day, AFSP will also host a 90-minute program that will include a film screening of “Life Journeys”; a post-screening discussion on coping with a suicide loss; and a Q&A with online viewers.

Since the loss of her brother, Renae has found a way in her healing journey to honor her brother’s life. On what would have been Raymond’s 26th birthday, she ran in the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. Recently, when she and her husband were on one of their antiquing trips, she found an old army trunk. Upon closer inspection, she discovered, engraved on the top, the word “Raymond.” They bought the trunk, and plan to one day give it to their son. His name is Charlie Ray.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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