SHERIDAN — Saturday, The Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library will host one of six statewide events orchestrated to bring together people affected by suicide in an effort to promote healing. The event will feature a broadcast by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at 11 a.m. Saturday to mark Nov. 23 as International Survivors of Suicide Day, and local counselors will be available to discuss aftermath and coping strategies for those who have lost someone to suicide.
The broadcast will feature a panel of survivors who have lost relatives and friends to suicide along with mental health experts. Locally, Dr. Victor Ashear and counselor Dawn Sopron will be available to facilitate discussion about the grieving process.
“What comes out of that is an explanation that it’s not your fault,” Community Prevention Specialist Thom Gabrukiewicz said, adding he hopes to provide an avenue for people who might not know how to reach out for the support they need. “They can get guidance on how to cope with the grief and loss about suicide.”
Gabrukiewicz said Wyoming has the highest suicide rate in the country, and there have been at least eight self-inflicted deaths in Sheridan County since the beginning of the year.
“It’s a big problem and what we’re trying to do with the broadcast for the people left behind is give them the help and support they need,” Gabrukiewicz said.
For many people, the annual broadcast serves as a platform to reach out for support and share their experiences for the first time. Though not required, pre-registration is encouraged by calling 655-8263.
There are approximately 300 locations around the world participating in the broadcast. Last year, only two towns in Wyoming participated, but this year, there are six: Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette, Riverton, Jackson and Sheridan.
In addition to attending Saturday’s broadcast, survivors of suicide can get help via meetings of the local chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illnesses. NAMI meets at the Methodist Church the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 5 to 6 p.m.
People currently in crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911.