Archive for Sunday, November 29, 2009

Suicide survivors mourn together

Support group helps families relieve burdens

November 29, 2009


Support group

Headquarters Counseling Center offers a Healing After Suicide support group, which meets every other Tuesday evening. The group is for any adult who has lost a loved one through suicide. For more information, call Headquarters at 841-2345.

Addressing a room of parents, grandparents, siblings and spouses who had lost loved ones to suicide, pastor Gary Teske advised them to treat themselves as they would anyone else.

“Be gentle on yourself, be nice to yourself,” he said.

Added to the burden of mourning the loss, survivors of suicide often battle feelings of guilt, shame and isolation as they come to terms with their loved one’s death.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, about a dozen people gathered in the community room at Trinity Lutheran Church to take part in National Survivors of Suicide Day. Together, with more than 200 groups across the country and world, they watched a video in which five survivors — people just like themselves — shared stories about what it was like to lose someone to suicide.

Afterward, a panel of local suicide survivors talked about how they coped with the death of a son, a husband and a father.

“I felt like I had a broken heart,” said Kim Kirk, whose 14-year-old son, Tyler, died by suicide in 2003. “I’ll live with a broken heart forever, but I don’t have to live a broken life.”

In the aftermath of Tyler’s death, Kirk and another suicide survivor helped start a support group through Headquarters Counseling Center.

“Unfortunately the group has grown, but we are grateful it is there,” Kirk said.

Panelists lamented the lack of treatment options available for mental health patients in Lawrence. Kirk’s son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but no one ever told his family what to do if he was in a crisis situation.

In the weeks before Rose Foster’s husband, Gordon, died, Lawrence Memorial Hospital had closed its mental health unit. Gordon Foster was told it would be three weeks before he could schedule an appointment at a local mental health facility.

“You don’t tell someone who is suicidal to hold that thought for about three weeks,” Foster said. “It makes me very sad that he felt like he was out of options. We shouldn’t feel like that in Lawrence.”

Support groups, like the one at Headquarters Counseling, have helped Kirk and Foster work through their grief, something that will be a lifelong process for both.

For Foster, it has been freeing to accept the fact that she will never truly understand why her husband committed suicide.

That, however, doesn’t mean she will stop thinking about him. Foster advises family and friends to never stop saying the name of the person who died or sharing stories about them.

This holiday season, Thad Holcombe, a pastor at Ecumenical Christian Ministries whose father died by suicide several decades ago, said he will enjoy telling tales of his dad.

“And there are some really funny ones,” he said. “With that it is bittersweet. But the remembering, the connecting is really important.”


Emily Scholle 8 years, 4 months ago

I went to school with Tyler Kirk and he was a very close, very dear friend of mine. I'm happy to see that his mom is reaching out to others who have experienced the loss of a loved one through suicide because her kind words helped me through that situation as well. Tyler was a beautiful boy and I'll never forget him.

storm 8 years, 4 months ago

We use the word committed for a crime, like homicide, genocide, etc.. Using the verbiage, committed suicide is hurtful to the family and friends of someone who has died by his or her own hand. It implies their loved one committed a crime and this only adds to the stigma.

Kat Christian 8 years, 4 months ago

Storm: Suicide is a Crime, commited against God, their family and humanity. It is a terrible thing to live with. My sister 'commited' suicide 12 years ago. I miss her so much. I feel so cheated out of time with her, but I'm not angry with her anymore nor do I feel the guilt like I use to. If only I had said this, if only I had done that. You can't live on these words they will drive you crazy. I live on the fact that she is at peace and no longer hurts (whatever that was) - that is between she and God now. The bible says suicide is the path to hell, but I don't believe that. I know this because my Mother and I prayed very hard for my sister's soul to be a peace (I know others did too). One night she passed by me and I felt a gentle breeze on my neck then the most silent peace I ever felt. I jumped up and called my Mother. I didn't have to say a word because she felt it too. We knew she went into the light and God accepted her. He had forgiven her because of our prayers and the love we all have for her. God is good, God is great.

agrabass 8 years, 4 months ago

Suicide is not a crime

CRIME: action or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals or to the interests of the state and that is legally prohibited.

People who choose to end thier lives are not criminals. They are sad, they feel powerless, and they believe the pain they feel will end if they are gone, which in thier mind makes them feel powerful.

Suicide is not a crime, it's somewhat selfish, but until I spend 5 minutes in thier shoes I can only speculate what thier world is like when they make the choice.

5.a foolish, senseless, or shameful act: It's a crime to let that beautiful garden go to ruin.

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