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Ryan Johnson, Published November 19 2013

Events planned Saturday in F-M to mark International Survivors of Suicide Day

FARGO – Someone dies by suicide every 40 seconds.

But for each of these deaths, many more relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbors are left behind to grieve.

“It’s very easy when you lose someone that way to think that nobody understands, that nobody could possibly understand what that’s like,” said Brenda Weiler, treasurer and volunteer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s North Dakota chapter who lost her older sister to suicide in 2005.

But they’re not alone, Weiler said.

For the seventh consecutive year, local AFSP volunteers will sponsor events here to mark International Survivors of Suicide Day, commemorated every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to recognize those lost to suicide while also giving their loved ones information and hope.

Attendees will watch a 90-minute live AFSP broadcast of several panelists discussing their losses to suicide along with comments from a mental health professional.

After the program, those who attend the Fargo event also will hear from a local mental health professional and get a chance to talk with others who have lost someone to suicide.

The Fargo event starts at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Genevieve’s Place, 390 6th Ave. S., with a free lunch provided by Olive Garden. The live AFSP broadcast will begin at noon, and the local event will be done around 2 p.m.

Local volunteers also are organizing a similar event in Moorhead.

Melanie Schicker, a health administration professor at Minnesota State University Moorhead and survivor who lost her son to suicide, will talk about her own experiences after the AFSP broadcast.

The Moorhead event, the first-ever organized here to commemorate International Survivors of Suicide Day by the North Dakota chapter of AFSP, also includes a free lunch. It starts at noon at MSUM’s Comstock Memorial Union, located at 1104 7th Ave. S., in Room 205.

The AFSP is well-known in the community for organizing the “Out of the Darkness” walk that raises money for the group and boosts awareness about suicide and mental illness. The eighth annual walk in Fargo was in September.

Weiler said Saturday’s program has a different goal and is meant to be a more intimate experience for the 30 to 50 survivors who participate locally each year.

“It’s a good opportunity for someone who’s maybe feeling they need support or just some guidance or just want to know where there are better resources in the community, or they just want to connect with other people who understand,” she said.

The AFSP program also will be archived and can be watched online as it airs or at a later date, Weiler said.

For more information about International Survivors of Suicide Day or to watch Saturday’s program, visit www.afsp.org/coping-with-suicide/international-survivors-of-suicide-day.

If you go

What: International Survivors of Suicide Day

When: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: St. Genevieve’s Place, 390 6th Ave. S., Fargo, and Minnesota State University Moorhead Comstock Memorial Union Room 205, 1104 7th Ave. S.

Info: To register for the Fargo event, contact Kristi Imsdahl at (701) 200-6263 or afspndevents@gmail.com. Attendees don’t need to be preregistered.

No registration is required for the Moorhead event, but Melanie Schicker can be contacted at (701) 541-5383 for more information.


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587