For the past seven years, Kay Warren has hosted an annual gathering at Saddleback Church in honor of Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.
During that time, Warren said, there have been many strides in mental health awareness.
One thing remains constant, though.
“The pain is the same,” said Warren, who lost her son Matthew to suicide in 2013. “The two hardest deaths to process, and mourn, and grieve and walk through, are suicide and murder.”
Both involve deep trauma, she said.
“I think the pain that these suicide loss survivors bring into that room is going to be the same every year. It’s a horrible loss and it takes a long time to begin to recover,” said Warren, co-founder of Saddleback Church.
The event coincides with International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, which was designated by Congress as a day when those affected by suicide can gather for support. It was created after former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose father died by suicide, introduced a resolution in 1999.
This day is commemorated on the Saturday before Thanksgiving since the holidays can be a hard time for suicide loss survivors.
Warren, in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is holding the free Saturday (Nov. 23) event from 9 to 11 a.m. at Saddleback Church in South Orange County. There will be prayer, testimony from a mother who lost her son to suicide and from Warren and her story of loss.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. In 2017, there were more than 47,000 suicides and 1.4 million suicide attempts, according to the CDC.
Warren and her husband, Rick Warren, pastor for Saddleback Church, have been outspoken about mental illness and grief since their son’s suicide. A year after his death, they launched a mental health ministry at Saddleback Church. And just recently, Kay Warren held a new retreat for mothers of children with mental illness.
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Source: Religion News Service