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American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to host Cottage Party

July 2, 2012 GREATER SPRINGFIELD — The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's (AFSP) Western Massachusetts Chapter with support from Department of Public Health is hosting a Cottage party July 11, in West Springfield and throughout the summer in all four Western Massachusetts counties to encourage survivors to create memory squares. These squares will be joined together to form a Memory Quilt. These are collaborative tributes created by survivors of suicide loss that are publically displayed at local and national events in order to put a human face on the tragedy of suicide and the devastating toll it has taken on our families and communities. The Lifekeeper Memory Quilt Program was originally founded in 1997 by survivor Sandy Martin, who lost her only child, Tony. She believed survivors have an opportunity to use their experience "to do good, to work to dispel the myths, and to educate about suicide and its prevention." Each quilt is comprised of fabric squares that have been crafted by different survivors with photos, drawings, text, or embroidery in memory of loved ones who have taken their lives. The creation of quilts is locally organized by volunteers who sign up to serve as AFSP Lifekeeper Memory Quilt Organizers. This grassroots activity provides a meaningful and creative outlet for survivors and as each square of the quilt is lovingly stitched together with others, people are reminded that no survivor stands alone — there are thousands of others who also feel the pain and loneliness of losing a loved one to suicide. The only requirement is the square must include an image. The quilts will be on display throughout the four counties until the Out of the Darkness Walk on Sept. 30 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Each time an AFSP Lifekeeper Memory Quilt is displayed, it helps increase public awareness of suicide and educates communities that expression is a major public health issue. More than 36,000 people nationally and more than 500 just in Massachusetts will complete a suicide this year. Jennifer Lynch Serrano, quilt coordinator said, "Our goal is familiarize survivors with just how easy it is to complete a square, the difficult part for survivors is often choosing the image and wording to accompany the photo. I will work through the entire process with them. I lost my mom many years ago and creating her square is a tribute to her." To share a story and honor the memory of a loved one, craft a quilt square for an AFSP Lifekeeper Memory Quilt. It's easy to do — no sewing skills are needed. Bring a photos and ideas. Lynch Serrano will host a Cottage Party on July 11 at 6:30 p.m. in West Springfield. Email jenslp1971@yahoo.com or call 682-4205 for information as well as reservations. Reservations are required as a lite dinner will be served. Reservations accepted the day of the event. This event is free and open to all who are ready to begin. Bookmark and Share

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