UCSF Psychiatry to host 2016 International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day event on November 19

The University of California, San Francisco Department of Psychiatry, along with the San Francisco chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), will host a morning of reflection, discussion, and support on Saturday, November 19, 2016, for International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.

Survivor Day allows people affected by suicide loss to gather at events in over 350+ local communities worldwide to find comfort and gain understanding. Like all Survivor Day events, this year's San Francisco event in the Langley Porter Building on the UCSF Parnassus campus is free and open to the public. Registration is highly encouraged for planning purposes, but walk-ins are welcome on the day of the event.

The San Francisco event will include a screening of "Life Journeys: Reclaiming Life after Loss,” a new AFSP-produced Survivor Day documentary that traces the grief and healing journey that follows a suicide loss over time. After the screening, faculty and staff members from the UCSF Depression Center and the San Francisco VA Health System's Suicide Prevention Program will moderate small group discussions for attendees to share their experiences and ask questions.

Survivor Day helps suicide loss survivors on healing journey

“After I lost my younger brother Raymond to suicide, I felt so alone and guilty about his death. But attending a Survivor Day event allowed me to connect with others who had lost a person close to them, and made me realize I wasn’t alone – that others understood my grief. It was incredibly healing,” said Renae Carapella-Johnson, who lost her younger brother Raymond Carapella to suicide in 2005.

Although Raymond, a consummate prankster known for his sense of humor, might have seemed a healthy high school student, his family, who knew him best, recognized that he struggled with anxiety and depression. They tried to encourage him in his interests, like watching football (the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were his favorite teams), creative writing, and cross country running. But in 2005, his life ended abruptly and all too soon. Raymond took his own life.

After Raymond’s suicide, his sister Renae felt alone and lost. It wasn’t until she found AFSP and attended her first Survivor Day event that she began to realize there were others like her, even in her own community, who had experienced a similar loss. When she connected with them at the Survivor Day event in her town, she began to consider what she could do to prevent others from experiencing this kind of grief.

Since the loss of her brother, Renae has found a way in her healing journey to honor her brother’s life. On what would have been Raymond’s 26th birthday, she ran in the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. Recently, when she and her husband were on one of their antiquing trips, she found an old army trunk. Upon closer inspection, she discovered, engraved on the top, the word “Raymond.” They bought the trunk, and plan to one day give it to their son. His name is Charlie Ray.

About AFSP

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

About UCSF Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation's foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric mental health. Together they constitute one of the largest departments in the UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, with a mission focused on research (basic, translational, clinical), teaching, patient care, and public service.

UCSF Psychiatry conducts its clinical, educational, and research efforts at a variety of locations in Northern California, including UCSF campuses at Parnassus Heights, Mission Bay, and Laurel Heights, the UCSF Medical Center at Mt. Zion, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the San Francisco VA Health Care System, and UCSF Fresno.

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, and other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area.