Loss Survivor division
I am Vanessa McGann, PhD., chair of the Loss Division of AAS, and I'd like to tell you a bit about what AAS means to me, what the division does, and why I would be so, so grateful to you if you would participate in Giving Tuesday on behalf of survivors of suicide loss.
When my sister took her life in 2004, I was broken, scared and confused. With two small children and a full-time psychotherapy practice, feeling the brunt of the stigma of suicide, I was truly unsure that I could go on. Luckily, I learned about AAS and attended the annual conference not six months after her death. There, I met loss survivors who had come before me, who had strong shoulders for me to lean on and wise words for me to hear. By the time I flew home from the conference, I felt I had a home and a purpose, and my wounds began to heal. I have attended the conference every year since. I look forward to seeing some of those very same friends I made in 2005 and I treasure the opportunity to welcome newly bereaved with my now strong shoulders and wise words. It is a sad but beautiful cycle to behold; for until we have a world without suicide, what we need is a world that will bring solace to the bereaved.
The Loss Division of AAS is busy working to support individuals, families, and communities grieving suicides. Currently, we are planning our annual Healing After Suicide Conference, which will be held in Denver April 27, 2019, and is co-sponsored with TAPS
and AFSP. The aim of the conference is to equip those newly bereaved on their healing journey with tools and hope. In addition, it serves as place where those further along in their grief come together as friends and colleagues to plan and strategize on ways to increase resources and support to those bereaved by suicide. Many members of the AAS Loss Division served in the National Action Alliance's Survivor of Suicide Loss Task Force, created the National Guidelines (https://theactionalliance.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/NationalGuidelines.pdf), and are now turning toward making recommendations from those guidelines a reality. We are developing postvention trainings, so that clinicians can learn how to support suicide loss survivors and communities can learn to lessen the impact of suicide loss. We are outreaching to survivors, letting them know of resources and helping them develop their own goals. And we are supporting clinicians who have lost clients and loved ones to suicide so that, in turn, we can help to educate the field in best prevention and postvention practices.
And we have so many more goals! We want to lower the admission cost for the annual conference so that it can reach, touch and help more new loss survivors. We want to increase our outreach to diverse groups so that our resources can reach more communities. We want to create retreats for both the newly bereaved as well as veteran change makers to provide them with the opportunity to network, heal and thrive. We want to create desperately needed materials for those raising children in the wake of a suicide, trainings so that first responders can more adequately and sensitively respond to survivors, a website which can be a hub for all resources pertinent to grieving a suicide, and much much more. But we need your help.
I wish the rates of suicide were not on the rise. I wish the stigma that loss survivors face was a thing of the past. I wish the resources were in place for loss survivors everywhere to get the help they need when, where and how they want it. I wish you would consider giving to this amazing organization so that we can make these wishes come true.