Friends and family of suicide victims share memories of their loved ones, the grief they feel and thoughts about suicide prevention in a recently released film called “Survivors, The Ones Left Behind.”
The film highlights members of Heartbeat of Durango, a peer-support group for those grieving the suicide of a loved one. The local chapter of Heartbeat was founded in 2013 in partnership with Southern Ute Community Action Programs.
“It’s the place where they can safely share their loss with people that understand,” said support group facilitator Janna Schaefer.
Durango-based photojournalist and filmmaker Susannah Kay produced the film, released online, to give those who have lost loved ones a voice, she said.
“I was so inspired by these individuals’ willingness to go deep and be vulnerable, especially considering that our culture has created a stigma around suicide,” she said. “What hit me the hardest was in my search for people to interview, I had to say ‘no’ to some because I couldn’t fit everyone in.”
The film, produced over 90 days, features the stories and experiences of nine people, including Lynn Dearey, who survived a suicide attempt on her own life.
Heartbeat member Mark Reddy spoke about the death of his brother. He said participating in the documentary was therapeutic. He hopes it will spark conversations about suicide and suicide prevention.
“Suicide is probably the most preventable death, but it requires awareness,” he said.
Reddy is also involved in San Juan Basin Public Health’s suicide-prevention groups focused on training people to prevent suicide and responding to suicides in the community to make sure residents receive the support they need.
In 2017, 19 people died by suicide in La Plata County. While, suicide rates in the county are alarming, Reddy believes the problem can be addressed.
“I think we can make progress, that we can reverse the tide,” he said.
To view the video and find more information about suicide grief support visit www.heartbeatofdurango.com.