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Suicide survivors to come together and support each other

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A list of events can be found at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.

The last Saturday before Thanksgiving is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. Communities across the world are bringing these survivors together to share their stories. A few of these gatherings are taking place in northern Illinois.

Jenn Balleto is a licensed clinical professional counselor at Northwestern Medicine. She also leads the support group for Survivors for Suicide Loss in McHenry County. She said the Crystal Lake event gives survivors the opportunity to support each other.

“And to really find hope and healing and inspiration in each other. Suicide loss is a very unique traumatic type of loss,” she explaind. “And so, unless you've experienced it, it's a very hard type of loss to imagine.”

Balleto outlined the details of the event.

“The first half hour of just like fellowship settling in, we're going to have some boxed lunches available,” she said. “Then we'll screen one of the AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) clips, and then survivors get up and share their stories for you know, to whoever is open to sharing.”

She is also urging those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide to ask for help.

“Letting someone know what you're thinking does not mean that automatically somebody is going to swoop in and take you from your home and lock you away on an inpatient behavioral health unit," she said. "And I think that's what a lot of people think.”

The gathering takes place from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday Nov.20 at the National Alliance on Mental Illness location, 620 Dakota St. in Crystal Lake. Other northern Illinois cities with these events include Batavia, Westmont, and Chicago. A list of events can be found at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.