WARREN - Candles were lit as tears were shed for loved ones who were lost to suicide Saturday at Victory Christian Center in Warren.
Loving Outreach Surviving Suicide (LOSS) and Survivors of Suicide (SOS) held the 14th annual Candlelight Vigil both in support of survivors and remembrance of their loved ones.
The group gathered was smaller than those in recent years, and the absence of those survivors was felt by those who came.
Tribune Chronicle / Bonnie L. Hazen
Mary and Jerry Kopiak of Warren light candles in memory of their daughter, Valerie, who was lost to suicide 14 years ago at the age of 19.
"I'm very heavy-hearted," said Mary Kopiak of Warren, who was mourning the loss of her daughter, Valerie, along with other family members and friends. Her daughter died of an overdose 14 years ago at the age of 19.
Kopiak said she wanted to hold a vigil in memory of her daughter when she first learned that Nov. 17 is National Suicide Survivors Day.
"I said, 'Oh, my God, that's when my baby died,'" she recalled.
She has been lighting candles in her memory ever since, and she said she was shocked at this year's much smaller crowd despite better publicity of the event.
"Last year, this place was packed," Kopiak said.
Cathy Grizinski, associate director of Help Hotline Crisis Center / Trumbull 211, told those gathered that despite their small number, those who were unable to attend are still hurting, and it is important for those who are grieving to try to get a perspective on their own grief.
LOSS organizer Bob Rattay also spoke during the vigil, stressing the importance of preventing future suicides.
LOSS meets the third Monday of every month at 5:30 p.m. at Valley Counseling Center, 150 E. Market St., Warren.
SOS in Mahoning County meets the third Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m., Disciples Christian Church, 565 Boardman Canfield Road, Boardman.
For more information, call the Help Hotline Crisis Center at 800-427-3606.