BILLINGS — Jim Heath’s son, Michael, told his dad he would never understand his pain.
And then, after 29-year-old Michael Heath took his own life, this Billings dad thought no one could ever understand that pain.
The feelings left behind after someone you love takes his or her life can’t be fully understood, but there are people, places, programs and events to help.
Saturday is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, which is put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
It’s officially recognized and dedicated by the U.S. Congress the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year, an often especially difficult time for those battling depression and mental illness.
In 1999, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who lost his father to suicide, introduced the resolution as a day for those affected by suicide to join together for healing and support.
Heath and his wife, Berte, lost Michael in June of 2018.
Michael grew up in Billings, attended Senior High, graduated with honors from the University of Montana and then graduated law school in Chicago.
Jim says Michael never took anything at face value. He challenged and questioned everything.
So if there's anyone out there who is questioning if they should find a support group or attend a Survivor Day Event tomorrow, this dad says – yes, you should.
"I was like that. I don't join a lot of clubs. I'm kind of a loner that way, but it's a great place to come and see who else has experienced this. Talk to somebody else who's experienced it and maybe that's the door that allows you to express some of your feelings," Jim said.
Although Jim realizes there will never be answers for everything, he knows there is help.
A place where there is no judgment, a place where social boundaries do not exist, a safe place where you can find some form of understanding.
Survivors of Suicide Loss Day Event:
Nov. 23, 2019
8:30 am — 11:30 am
Billings Clinic Hospital Conference Center
2800 10th Ave. N.
Billings , Montana 59101
Entrance to Conference Center is at the northeast corner of hospital cafeteria, near the grand piano. If you are entering the hospital by pediatrics, go past the small elevator and stairway by pediatrics towards cafeteria, then take the first left.
Click here to learn more and find other Suicide Loss Day Events across the state and country.