by John Preer
Every 40 seconds someone in the world commits suicide.
The reasons why so many people decide to take their own lives vary dramatically. Many factors, ranging from stress to abuse, drive thousands of individuals to give up on everything.
Contrary to the wishes of those who commit suicide, the pain does not end with their life. Friends, colleagues, and relatives all suffer when someone close to them takes their own life.
In an attempt to provide healing and closure to those affected by suicide, the Survivors of Suicide Valdosta organization holds meetings every third Wednesday of the month in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Valdosta at 8 p.m.
The Lead Facilitator of S.O.S. Valdosta is VSU music professor Tamara Hardesty. Hardesty is no stranger to the pain of suicide loss and began her journey of healing in 2008 when she joined a support group in Connecticut.
S.O.S. VALDOSTA is a peer-led, non-religious group with anonymous and open membership for any adult who has suffered a loss to suicide.
These meetings are designed to provide victims of the tragedy of suicide a chance to cope with the trauma in a welcoming and non-judgmental environment. The added effect of talking to people who can truly sympathize with personal experiences is vital to the healing process.
The meetings are open to suicide survivors and those who have lost someone to suicide. However Hardesty stresses she cannot properly help someone who is suffering from suicidal thoughts.
“I am not a mental health professional, just a peer who has suffered a loss and learned how to facilitate a group to work on healing our grief,” Hardesty said. She stresses that anyone suffering should seek appropriate professional help.
On Sat. Nov. 23 the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is holding its 15 annual International Survivors of Suicide Day. On that day thousands of survivors of suicide will gather all around the world in support of each other and the continuation of the healing process.
For anyone that may be having trouble dealing with suicide, there are multiple online venues and hotlines to provide guidance. The website afsp.org is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s official website and it is full of helpful exercises and contacts that could potentially save a life.
Suicidepreventionlifeline.org is another great website devoted to saving individuals from the cold grip of suicide. Their hotline number is 1-800-273-TALK and is operational 24 hours a day.
Updated: Saturday, Nov. 16 at 2:20 p.m.