Virtual Event Scheduled Saturday, Nov. 20, for Survivors of Suicide Loss

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Each year, more than 1 million people in the U. S. attempt suicide, leading to approximately 48,000 deaths and over 400,000 emergency room visits due to self-inflicted injuries. In 2014, U.S. suicide deaths reached a record high and have steadily increased each year.

Head shot Dennis Gillan

Parkwest Medical Center, Peninsula and the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network are helping survivors remember and celebrate those they’ve lost to suicide, and offering hope and encouragement through this year’s virtual Survivors of Suicide Loss Day on November 20.

The featured speaker for this year’s event is Dennis Gillan. He describes himself as an ordinary guy with an extraordinary story of perseverance. After losing bot h of his brothers  to suicide, Gillan has dedicated his time to speak about mental health and suicide prevention. He has presented a TEDx Talk, “Standing Tall in the Face of Mental Health,” and continues to share his own inspirational story and message of hope to audiences everywhere. In his outreach Gillan strives to make people comfortable talking about mental health and suicide prevention. To learn more about Gillan visit

Other Event Participants During the event other survivors will share their personal experiences about the loss of their loved ones. Some share stories of how they processed their anger and their grief, along with stories about their loved ones.

About Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

After losing his father to suicide, U.S. Senator Harry Reid introduced a resolution to the United States Senate in 1999 that led to the creation of Inter- national Survivors of
Suicide Loss Day. Also known as Survivor Day, the recognition was designated by the United States Congress as a day when those affected by suicide can come together for
healing and support. It was determined that Survivor Day would always fall on the Saturday before American Thanksgiving, as the holidays are often a difficult time for suicide loss survivors.

We continue to observe COVID-19 and social distancing precautions, so we hope you’ll join us online in our observance of Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. This year’s virtual event
will feature a series of videos from survivors of suicide who will share their personal journeys.

How to Participate in the Event

What: Virtual event in observance of Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
Who: This event is intended for anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021
Where: Online in the comfort of your own home. Visit to view the event videos.

There is Help in Healing

Lonely sad womanA support group called ComPASS — Communicating the Pain as Suicide Survivors — provides a safe place of understanding and education during the journey of loss following the suicide death of a loved one. The forum is open discussion, and is free and open to anyone who wishes to attend. Mark Potts, director of clinical services at Peninsula, facilitates support groups.

Potts notes, “I serve as a resource for questions, and can sometimes validate that it’s OK to feel what they’re feeling. The most important thing we can tell them is their grief or
sadness is nothing to be ashamed of.” Potts has witnessed attendees’ shared experiences provide strength and hope to someone who is grieving. “My main message to anyone feeling loss or grief is that you are not alone. Please seek help.”

He continues, “We as humans are not solitary creatures. We have a need to connect with  others that is just as important to our survival as food and air. When we are grieving our
tendency is to isolate, or cut ourselves off from the very thing that can help get us through it.” Potts reminds us there is no time limit on grieving. “When it’s a traumatic and sudden loss, the grief becomes complicated with questions we’ll never have the answers to.”

Currently ComPASS meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month from 6 – 7:30 p. m. No registration is required. For information on joining, please visit

Suicide Prevention Resources

Are you having thoughts of suicide or worried about a loved one? There are resources to help.

  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800)-273-8255 or call 911
  • 24/7 Crisis Text Line for Tennessee residents – Text “TN” to 741-741.