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'Don’t be afraid to ask for help' | Suicide loss survivors gather to lift each other up and heal

The goal of the event was to get people talking, to give people hope and to make people realize they aren't alone in their grief journey.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — November 23 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network and Covenant Health gave those survivors a chance to come together, talk and try to heal by sharing their common thread.

The goal of the event was to get people talking, to give people hope and to make people realize they aren't alone in their grief journey.

Suicide is a topic that's hard to talk about. It's a word that's almost taboo, but it's something everyone at the event had in common. They've all lost someone to suicide.

RELATED: Start the conversation: What parents should know about teen suicide

Jamie Tworkowski was the keynote speaker for the event. He's the creative director of To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit dedicated to finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

"These folks have joined a community that they never intended to, that they never asked for," Tworkowski said. "They need to know that they're not alone."

Annette and Mike Scott lost their son Andrew to suicide in the spring of 2019. They say sharing that common thread with other suicide loss survivors is beneficial while they heal.

"How can I smile again after this," Annette Scott questioned. "You know this has hurt me so much-- to the core-- and just seeing that you can get though it with the help of your family and friends and support groups and events like this."

They know talking about what happened and what's next is essential.

"The sooner that you can get out there and find someone to talk to, talking helps. It does," the Scotts agreed.

"It's okay to be honest about the pain, the grief, the sadness and the questions," Tworkowski said.

The event was an invitation to open up.

"We get to let people know they're not alone, that it's okay to be honest and more than anything encourage people to ask for help," Tworkowski explained.

So the little reminders on jewelry, like the necklace Annette Scott wears with her son's name on it and the bracelet she made with a butterfly pressed in the metal, never fade.

The event was full of activities and speakers. The families said they hope events like this would open up and be more accessible for more people because of how helpful it was.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, there is help available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day every day of the year. Just call 1-800-273-8255.

RELATED: Knox County school board approves first reading of update to student suicide prevention policy

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