People who are affected by loss from suicide can gather together in Prague on Saturday, November 23 in a private room at Café Therapy starting at 1 pm. Interested people can register in advance online, so the organizers know how many people to prepare for.
The event takes place on International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, when people around the world affected by suicide loss can gather in local events to share stories of healing and hope, and find comfort. The issue is particularly pressing for expats, as they often lack close family nearby to talk to.
Prague Against Suicide and Counseling in Prague are organizing the Czech event for the ninth consecutive year.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s short film Pathways to Healing: Hope after Suicide Loss, which chronicles people’s experiences after losing some one to suicide, will be shown at the meeting.
Organizers Gail Whitmore and Layla Abdulla will lead an informal workshop where people can respond to the film, share their experiences, talk about whom they’ve lost, and examine their feelings.
In the past there has been much more laughter and joy than one would expect from an afternoon discussing suicide, according to the organizers.
“For many loss survivors, attending a Survivor Day event is the first time they realize they are not alone. Just hearing the stories from people at all stages of healing can be helpful. The gathering also provides participants with a chance to share their own stories with those who understand firsthand the challenges of living in the aftermath of a suicide loss,” Whitmore and Abdulla said.
They are trying to end the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Whitmore is a counselor and crisis interventionist who for 17 years has been the only provider of 24/7 crisis and suicide intervention in English in the Czech Republic. “It is sorely needed because as of now there are only a handful of organizations with the capacity to help, and they have extremely odd hours,” she said.
“When someone makes the choice to put a permanent end to the current issues of their life there are so many people left to deal with what are now their own current life issues,” Whitmore and Abdulla said.
“The combination of emotions is staggering: heartbreak, fury, shock, confusion, relief. People are left with questions to which they may never learn the answers. Some people have those answers and weren’t surprised when they heard the news but are no less stuck in the quicksand,” they added.
Most cultures are also not comfortable discussing suicide. The workshop provides partners, children, parents, friends, co-workers, and relatives a space to explore their feelings and openly talk about the details and ramifications of happened, as well as the practicalities and new responsibilities.
The event is free, but there is an optional suggested donation of 200 CZK to cover expenses such as the venue, materials, and extras.