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A Day to Remember

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International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is an annual event in which survivors of suicide loss come together to connect, find common ground, and hope through their common experiences. This year, International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is Saturday, November 18, 2023.  For more information on how you can be a part of this event, contact Joyce at

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By Darcella L. Lambert, RTS Assistant Executive Director 

Removing the Stigma(RTS) hosted its first International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day event, A Day to Remember on November 19th. According to Executive Director Denise Holcomb, the vision to hold an event on this International day for Cleveland east side has been long overdue. “Events like this have always been hosted on Cleveland’s westside. It has been our desire for years to bring this day to Cleveland’s east side community. This day is only the beginning of more to come.” The first-time event brought in nearly forty guests, and of the attending guest only one person had ever heard of International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. As guests arrived, they received welcome bags, filled with gifts and resources, which had been carefully prepared by RTS volunteers. The bags included resources, journal and pen, mask, a memorial candle, In Loving Memory facial tissues, and a balloon with “Miss you Forever, Love You Forever, We will never Forget you, We will Remember you every single day.” The venue was softly decorated with blue, white and yellow, balloons and tablecloths, and white dove balloons and pre-lit candles in each corner. There was a special memory table, colorful AFSP honor bead table, and a resource table. A Day to Remember started with Icebreakers moments, a way for the guests to relax, become comfortable, while facilitating an atmosphere of interaction. Following the icebreaker moments, Assistant Director, Darcella Lambert, shared her story, as a suicide survivor, followed by the reading of The Removing The Stigma Story, and the introduction of the Founder and Executive Director, Denise Holcomb who briefly shared her story of loss, healing, and recovery, and the foundation, mission, and vision of RTS. The platform was then set for the amazing heart-touching keynote speaker LeTrice Duckworth-Blue. Her heart-touching but real-life story brought, silence, tears, and laughter as she shared the events which took place on a day which drastically changed her life as a teenager at the age of 15; after the death of her mother who died by suicide. Although her story brought tears into the room, the entire atmosphere of the room shifted to healing and hope, as she ended her story with personal heart-felt words of hope, and healing as she passed around in a small basket of beautiful HOPE stones. “I like to make people laugh, I know this is a sad time, but every time you want to cry, look at me”. And THEN CAME THE SHIFT! HOPE in the atmosphere. Throughout the morning, guests had the opportunity to share stories of their own unique ways, (including having pictures of their loved ones while sharing. Each story told, ended with a special thank you, for the first time, and the gift to be able to share their story upon people who understood their loss and pain. There were over thirty people present at this event and only one person had ever heard of International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. Darcella Lambert, Assistant Director of RTS, who is not only a suicide loss survivor, but also a individual who has survived several suicide attempt says, “sharing our personal stories was a challenge, but it was the doorway to let the community know you are not alone. Its okay to share the pain, of suicide loss. With grief counselors ready to assist here if we needed them, we were able to share about our loved ones and the emotions attached.” During lunch, guest enjoyed a healthy Panera meal, while Aissatou Diop a John Carroll University Intern with RTS, shared her story and a personal poem she had written to her best friend who had died by suicide. After lunch guests enjoyed a time of painting during the Paint and Remember session, facilitated Rozenia Cunningham of Art-it-Yourself, in Euclid, Ohio. Guest painted a beautiful picture of a dove flying in the sky with the sunset, while being served favorable sparkling water in champagne glasses. One of the guests at the event referred to the Paint and Remember moment by saying. “The paint and sip, allowed me time to rewind and reflect upon the event and things learned.” The event ended with a moment of silence and seven dove balloon releases; each balloon was signed by guests, as a way to remember their loved ones.

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