Mid-Missourians remember loved ones lost to suicide

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FULTON - Mid-Missourians who have lost loved ones to suicide gathered to share their stories during International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day Saturday.

The Fulton chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosted the third annual event. Community members talked about their experiences and how to cope with loss. Melody Seiger, chapter chairperson, said it is important to bring these events to smaller communities.

"Suicide doesn't just happen in large communities," Seiger said. "It happens everywhere. It doesn't have a boundary. It doesn't have a race or a social or economic background that it happens. It can happen to anybody at anytime."

Seiger opened the event with a candlelight ceremony dedicated to her mother. After watching a short film about coping with suicide, the group had a private discussion to talk about how to move on from suicide loss.

"We have a small group here today. Even if we have five people we've helped with their grief, that is awesome. Everybody that's ever gone through has told me it's helped them so much, and they were able to share feelings they weren't able to share before and it was helpful to be around people that truly got the way that they felt."

In addition to holding Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, the chapter also holds walks throughout the year and provides education on mental health and first aid. Seiger said to look for warning signs of suicide such as withdrawing from family and friends, sleeping a lot, showing signs of a mental illness and talking about death.

"If someone would have taken action when my mom was displaying those warning signs, she would still be here today," Seiger said. "But unfortunately we missed those signs, so today I would encourage people not to ignore those signs, but to ask their friend about suicide, ask them if they're thinking about hurting themselves, and if they are then get them help."

AFSP says 40,600 suicides were reported in 2012, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. Seiger encourages those who are struggling with suicide to call 1-800-273-TALK.