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Surviving a Loss By Suicide: Survivor Day Event in Portage

Every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, hundreds of cities across the country and around the world host International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day events, healing gatherings where family and friends who’ve been touched by suicide loss can come together to connect, share, and find comfort. This year in Ravenna, the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Portage County hosted the annual event that included a screening of “Life Journeys: Reclaiming Life after Loss”– a documentary that traces the grief and healing journey that follows a suicide loss over time.

After viewing the film, a group discussion was facilitated by Joel Mowrey, PhD, executive director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County and featured guest speaker Deirdre Svab. Streetsboro resident Svab shared her story of recovery after losing her son to suicide.

“For many, attending a suicide loss day event is the first step in realizing they are not alone,” said Mowrey. “It can be helpful for those who have recently lost a loved one to suicide to hear from someone who has been through the loss.”.

Svab shared with the group that she spent several months extremely depressed and unable to get out of bed after the loss of her son David. Since his death, Deirdre found a way in her healing journey to honor her son’s life. She started “David’s Ministry” which provides sandwiches and basic needs for homeless individuals in Cleveland in his memory. “David dedicated time to helping the homeless on missions during that last few years of his life,” she explained. “It keeps his memory alive, serves others, and gives me a chance to talk about him.”

Svab also spoke about their families’ grief after losing another son, Donovan, an officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and a Garrettsville Police officer, who was killed by a drunk driver.

“I am glad we hold this event every year,” said Paul Dages, Chair of the Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition. “The Coalition’s goal is to increase awareness of suicide as a mental health issue, reduce stigma, and increase family support.”

The Coalition holds a monthly Suicide Loss Support Group meeting on the last Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:00 pm at the Mental Health & Recovery Board office located at 155 E. Main Street in Kent. Due to the holidays, the December support group will meet on December 21. For more information, call 330-673-1756.

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