Saturday, November 17, is an international day of grief, remembrance, and healing; dubbed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.
"The group is [for] those who have suffered loss like myself. I lost my son Danny ten years ago [in] April," said event organizer Judy Battista. "I like to call myself a survivor and a thriver."
A couple dozen people from across the region met in the Town of Wallkill to share stories of their loved ones and bring awareness to the experience of losing someone to suicide.
"I walk through with some extremely painful shooes becuase I lost my 17-year-old son Nicholas," said Michal Dederick.
Dederick says his son was a star football player but experienced some trauma that led him to take his life.
At the event hosted at the Galleria Mall, attendees wrote the names of their loved ones on leaves, hung them on a tree, and displayed pictures on a table with commemorative candles.
A quilt with pictures of lost friends and family also hung in the background.
Members of the local chapter of AFSP hosted the event, and called it the largest gathering ever. Board Chair for the group, Rob Hennessey, said these events get them closer to their goal of reducing suicide by 20 percent ahead of the year 2025.
"Everybody that was here today had so much courage to come in with raw emotions," said Dederick, who has attempted to take his own life twice. "This is an extremely painful journey."
Those who have survived their own attempts, share their story to provide insight.
"I am a survivor of a suicide attempt at age 17 and I believe in giving back," said Bonnie LaBar, mental health professional and author. "I am grateful to be alive."
Organizers and attendees alike say these events help in many ways, but especially in reducing stigma and providing support to those in grief.