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Events held around Maine for 'International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day'

Dozens of Mainers gathered in South Portland to share their experiences, offer each other support, and learn more about resources.
Credit: NCM

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine β€” Since 1999, Americans and Mainers have reflected on the loved ones lost to suicide. 'International Survivors of Suicide Day' is held the Sunday before Thanksgiving as the holiday season can be tough for some families.

The Maine Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention held its own events in South Portland and Orono.

"It's a time when families can come together who have lost loved ones to suicide, to get hope and healing and support to help them through the holiday season," Margie Johnston, an organizer with the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, said.

Johnston lost her daughter to suicide in 2013 and said her family has had to find new holiday traditions as the Christmas season was her daughter's favorite time of year.

At the Double Tree Hotel in South Portland, more than 30 Mainers who lost a loved one to suicide joined together for counseling, shared their experiences, and learned about more resources and support systems.

"We found over the years when we help other people, it helps us, so, for me, it's just a time of healing every year," Johnston added.

It's also a chance for Mainers who recently lost a loved one to open up to others who share their pain.

"You're surrounded by people who are in the same boat as you, unfortunately, and you can cry in there and it's okay, you can laugh in there, and it's okay, but most importantly you remember your loved ones, and you're surrounded by other people who are doing the same," Eric Jay Leeks, who lost his son to suicide in 2014, said.

The organization has plenty of events planned for the next few months, and you can find more information here. The AFSP is also hosting a virtual event on Sunday.

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