Canvas Health and Writers to Honor Survivors of Suicide Loss

“Each snowflake stirs before/ lifting into the sky as I/ learn you won’t be dead,” writes local poet Matt Rasmussen, in his poem “Reverse Suicide.”

Rasmussen, along with poet Michael Kiesow Moore and writer Scott Long, are participating at a literature reading at SubText Books, 6 W. 5th St., St. Paul, MN 55102, on Nov. 21 at 2:00 p.m. The event honors Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, a day of remembrance for those who have lost someone to suicide.

Canvas Health is co-hosting the event along with SubText Books. Canvas Health is a non-profit organization assists people struggling with mental health, chemical health, and domestic and sexual abuse. It also operates Minnesota’s suicide prevention phone and text services to help those in crisis.

State data shows Minnesota’s suicide rate increased 29 percent from 2003 to 2011, more than twice the national average increase. For Millennial and Generation X Minnesotans, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

“The literature reading event gives people the opportunity to come together for healing and support,” said Julia Yach, Canvas Health Marketing and Communications Specialist.

Rasmussen won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets for his book, Black Aperture. The collection of poetry, which includes “Reverse Suicide,” is about losing his brother to suicide.

“It is a cause which I consider incredibly important,” Rasmussen said.

Moore’s book of poetry What To Pray For focuses on bullying and teen suicide. It is also a personal collection of poems, as Moore struggled with bullying while he growing up.

Long is a MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Minnesota. He will read a short story about the loss of a close friend.

Senator Harry Reid proposed the resolution to recognize survivors of suicide loss to the U.S. Senate in 1999. Reid had survived his father’s 1972 suicide. When it passed, Congress designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving National Survivors of Suicide Day. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention later dubbed it International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day because suicide knows no geographic boundaries.