International Survivors of Suicide Day provides chance for sharing, healing

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Jackson community will once again be able to honor those touched by suicide on Saturday, November 18. International Survivors of Suicide Day (ISOS) occurs annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It is a day of healing for those who have lost someone to suicide. The commemorative day was created by resolution in 1999 through the efforts of Nevada Senator Harry Reid who lost his father to suicide.

ISOS provides the opportunity for survivors to come together for support, healing, information and empowerment. The holiday season can be particularly difficult for survivors.

Suicide continues to be a significant public health issue in Wyoming in particular, and across the country as well. In 2015, the most current year for complete data, Wyoming had the highest rate of deaths by suicide, with 28.4 deaths per 100,000 residents, while the national average stood at 13.3 deaths per 100,000 that year. Wyoming recorded 157 resident deaths by suicide in 2015.

In our lifetimes, more than 60% of our population will personally know someone who has died by suicide, and 20% of us will lose an immediate family member to suicide. For every person who dies by suicide, dozens of people are personally affected, and the healing process for these survivors is often complicated by secrecy and stigma.

Each day in the U.S. more than 123 people take their own lives, leaving behind loved ones to struggle with the loss, grief, and questions that begin with “why?”

ISOS attempts to help survivors with these questions. A free event will be held at 970 West Broadway, Room 206 (above the UPS Store). Doors open at 10:30am and the program starts at 10:45am.

The Journey: A Story of Healing and Hope, produced by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, will be screened. This documentary follows a suicide loss through the eyes of a diverse group of loss survivors. The film shows how those left behind navigate the aftermath of their loved one’s suicide to find meaning and even joy, and takes an intimate look at how their healing journey evolves over time.

Attendees who have experienced a loss by suicide are welcome to bring photographs with them. Following the broadcast, attendees may choose to stay for support and discussion. Light refreshments will be served. You are not alone. You are welcome to join this community of suicide loss survivors to find comfort and gain understanding.

A Survivors of Suicide Loss support group meets monthly on the first Wednesday of each month, 6:00-7:30pm, Eagle classroom at St. John’s Medical Center. This peer-led group is for family and friends who have lost someone to suicide. You may access the basement classroom through the Emergency Room entrance at the hospital. More information on the group may be obtained by contacting Mark Houser, 732-1161 or at

If you are at immediate risk or know someone who is, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or call 911. Individuals who are believe they are personally for risk to suicide, or are interacting with someone at risk, can receive immediate professional help by contacting the Jackson Hole Community Counseling Center at 307-733-2046 (24 hours a day). More general information is available online at,, and

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