BEND, OR -- Deschutes County hosts a candlelight vigil Thursday, in recognition of those who have lost a loved one to suicide. The county's Suicide Prevention Project Coordinator Bethany Kuschel says events like this helps promote healing, "It gives people an opportunity, maybe if they’re struggling or maybe if they’ve had some experiences around suicide, to open up and talk about it. And maybe that can open up a connection to get some resources and then potentially get some help and support." She tells KBND News, "Often loss survivors experience a level of stigma and shame and guilt, that really only other loss survivors can understand. So, being in a space where they can talk openly and remember their loved one without having to worry about what other people are thinking about them or judging them."
The vigil is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the front lawn of the Bend-La Pine Schools Education Center, at 520 NW Wall Street.
It's one of several events planned for National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, aimed at brining survivors together. "There’s always this kind of recurrent theme of healing and joining together to support one another in a shared experience that’s pretty particular," says Caroline Suiter, Deschutes Count's Suicide/Mental Health Promotion Strategist, "That also can help prevent suicide by helping people heal, and recognize the losses that they’ve had and share about that lived experience in safe ways."
Next Thursday, Kuschel and Suiter will lead a free prevention training, "Some of the biggest barriers for people to get involved with someone who might be struggling with suicide, is a feeling of discomfort and not knowing what to do," says Kuschel, "That training, hopefully, breaks down some of those barriers and gives people confidence that asking directly about suicide is the right thing to do; it doesn’t put the idea in anyone’s head." The "Question, Persuade, Refer" (QPR) training is September 21 at 2 p.m. at the downtown Bend Library.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, visit Deschutes County’s Stabilization Center at 63311 NE Jamison Street, in Bend. Or, contact the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline anytime via call or text at 988. Deschutes County's Crisis Line is staffed during business hours at 541-32207500, ext. 9. There's also more information at the Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance website.