I n remembrance of those loved and lost, tears were shed during Saturday night's annual candlelight vigil for a group bound by tragic circumstances.
About 20 people shared stories, hugs, prayers and comfort during an event hosted by Loving Outreach Surviving Suicide Help Hotline to bring awareness of and help to those affected by a suicide.
"This comes from my heart," event organizer Mary Kopiak said. "I started this for my daughter Valerie and I'm still here for her. The people who are here are doing it for their loved ones."
Valerie Kopiak was 19 years old when she committed suicide early one morning in 1998.
Others in attendance for the vigil held at Victory Christian Center Warren Campus on Tod Avenue mourned husbands, brothers, parents and friends, while also discussing the best way to prevent suicides in the community.
Gianna Decost, 7, of Warren holds a candle during a vigil for survivors of suicide at Victory Christian Center Warren Campus on Tod Avenue.
Tribune Chronicle / Ashley Newman
"It's obviously not an answer," Howland resident Renee Frantz said. "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."
Frantz lost her husband to suicide. She said the group serves as both a healing mechanism and an educational device for those struggling with suicide.
"This brings awareness to people," Frantz said. "That's what we're about, especially for young people. We want them to know they're valued."
According to the World Health Organization, suicide rates have increased by 40-percent worldwide in the last 45 years.
Cathy Grizinski, associate director of Help Hotline Crisis Center, said the annual vigil serves as an important outlet.
"I think you see people need to have time to grieve and remember," Grizinski said. "The biggest part is making meaning of the loss."