Loved Ones of Suicides Gather for First-Ever Panel Discussion

National Videoconference Also Part of National Survivors of Suicide Day

November 18, 2003

"It’s an opportunity for survivors to connect with and hear the stories of other survivors in our community."

One woman’s husband committed suicide in their home after 30 years of marriage. Another woman’s 26-year-old son hung himself in his apartment. They’re the survivors – loved ones of suicides – who will share their stories in a first-ever local panel discussion to coincide with the fifth annual National Survivors of Suicide Day, Saturday, Nov. 22.

(NOTE TO MEDIA: Some of the survivors have agreed to speak with reporters during the week before the panel discussion. However, members of the media are asked not to attend the panel discussion itself due to the sensitive nature of the discussion. Cameras will not be allowed.)

As part of the discussion, the University of Rochester Medical Center also will air a national satellite videoconference led by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The program will run from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, in the Adolph Auditorium (Room 1-7619). Seating is limited, so those interested in attending are asked to reserve a space by calling 325-3145.

The event is free, and organizers expect the majority of the audience to be survivors.

“It’s an opportunity for survivors to connect with and hear the stories of other survivors in our community,” says Julie Cerel, Ph.D., a child clinical psychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center who will join the survivors on the panel.

As a clinician and researcher, Cerel will discuss some common reactions following the suicide of a loved one and warning signs that a survivor needs help.

“The panel will include survivors of different types of suicide – a teen, an adult child, and an older man – with the hope of showing the resilience of various types of survivors despite this traumatic life event,” says Cerel, whose research focuses on the implications of parental suicidal behavior on children.

The national videoconference (noon to 1:45 p.m.) will simultaneously link local survivor conferences around the country, helping survivors connect with others and express and understand the powerful and troubling emotions they’re experiencing. Following the national portion of the program, small group workshops will meet to give attendees the opportunity to share their personal stories with others who have experienced a similar loss.

Free Medical Center parking is available in the Visitor’s Lot at 300 Crittenden Blvd.

Local sponsors are the University of Rochester Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide, the Health Association’s LIFE LINE, The Mental Health Association of Rochester/Monroe County, Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc., ‘After Suicide’ Support Groups, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc.

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