SPOTLIGHT ON: The Tara Sirmans Survivor HOPE Program
When a suicide occurs in a community,
countless people are impacted. Family
members and loved ones can struggle for years
with a grief that is further burdened by
other complicated emotions and questions.
Other community members may also be impacted
by the traumatic loss: neighbors, co-workers,
emergency rescue personnel, mental health
professionals, law enforcement, clergy, and
any other witnesses to the scene. The
consequences of unresolved traumatic grief
can be lifelong and devastating, both
personally and professionally. Research
shows that survivors of suicide are
themselves at increased risk of suicide and,
in fact, may benefit most from one-on-one
support from other survivors in the aftermath
of this tragic loss.
The Tara Sirmans Survivor HOPE Program
provides a network of postvention services
that complement CrisisLink's long-established
prevention and intervention activities. See
"Study Finds One-on-One Support Critical for
Suicide Survivors" below for details.
For more information contact Mary Azoy,
email or at 703-516-6771.
To request the LOSS Team, call 703-241-LOSS.
Learn more about CrisisLink's full range of programs.
Conversations: CrisisLink's Suicide Survivor Support Group
Group members tell us how CrisisLink's support group is helping them
Q. How long have you been a member of
CrisisLink's Support Group?
J.U.: One year -- I joined in Nov. 2007
C.D.: I have been a member of the
support group for about 9 months.
J.T.: I've been a member for almost a
year and a half.
J.L.: I'm a new member, I've attended
the support group one time.
Q. What do you like most about the
Q. Have you benefited from being a part
of CrisisLink's bi-weekly support
- I like that the group is led by a
licensed counselor who has specific
experience working with those impacted by
suicide. I also like the diversity of
participants, it shows that suicide is not
specific to any one population.
- My favorite thing about the group is that
I can come as I am, however I might be
feeling, and I never have to put on a brave
face or pretend that I am "fine."
- The sense of belonging, knowing that
there are others who went through a similar
experience and can understand what I am
Q. Does it help to share with people who
have had a similar experience?
- Definitely. It has been healing for me to
talk through my emotions and ask questions,
as well as comfort and support other members
in their loss. I feel much better able to
cope with my loss through my participation in
- I have definitely benefitted from the
group in multiple ways as I have gone through
my grief process, especially because I know
that I always have somewhere to go and
someone to talk to. Sharing my experience
with other people who have gone through the
same thing, has been very healing and has
given me a source of support that is
- Yes, the people that attend the group
help make my burden of grief easier to bear.
It's really hard for me to talk about what's
upsetting me, but I feel much better letting
it out in a safe place.
- Without a doubt! Although each loss is
different - how it happened, when it
happened, who it was - I think that many of
the feelings associated are similar, and it
helps to discuss my grief knowing that I am
surrounded by people who understand the
unique nature of my loss and its aftermath.
- Yes, everyone who attends the support
group seems to be able to reach out to the
others in the group, even if we've just met
that night for the first time. There's a
connection there, and a willingness to help
Study Finds One-on-One Support Critical for Suicide Survivors
CrisisLink's HOPE Program and LOSS Team Responds
[Reprinted from Fall 2008 Newsletter] --
study published in the Journal of
Life-Threatening Behavior shows suicide
survivors - those who have lost a loved one
to suicide - need one-on-one support from
other survivors in the aftermath of this
tragic loss. The study's findings also
indicate survivors often have difficulty
seeking help in the aftermath of a loss to
CrisisLink's Tara Sirmans
Survivor HOPE (Help and Outreach for
Prevention and Education) Program
provides immediate support in the aftermath
of a suicide, a support group for survivors,
and trainings for first responders and other
professionals working with
CrisisLink's bi-weekly survivor
support group helps survivors through the
complicated grieving process by providing an
opportunity to express their feelings, and
help one another find ways to cope with this
traumatic loss. The group is professional
facilitated by CrisisLink's director of
Community Education and Crisis Reponse, Mary
Azoy, who is a licensed professional counselor.
"It's so important for me to be around
people who truly understand how a suicide
loss impacts aspects of our thoughts, views
on the world, reality, and relationships. I
like coming to the group because it's a safe
place to feel the pain, experience the grief,
and share the loss."--CrisisLink Support
CrisisLink's LOSS Team (Local Outreach to
Support Survivors) has volunteers - including
suicide survivors - to provide immediate
at-the-scene support to those impacted by
suicide or other sudden traumatic loss. LOSS
Team members help survivors cope with the
frightening and often chaotic aftermath, and
offer hope and guidance for the healing
process to come. This immediate support is
critical to help stabilize survivors and make
sure they get connected to community
resources so they themselves do not become
victims of suicide.
Sirmans Survivor HOPE Program served 300
people last year through support groups, LOSS
Team responses, and trainings in postvention.
Download the complete Fall 2008 Newsletter & Annual Report on our website.
Special Thank You: Reston Out of the Darkness Walk
On October 11, nearly 150 people came
together for the Reston Out of Darkness Walk,
one of more than 100 community walks held
across the country to raise awareness and
support for suicide prevention programs and
support services for those affected by
suicide. This year's Reston Walk organizers
chose to designate the funds raised through
their walk--nearly $15,000--to CrisisLink's
youth suicide prevention initiative.
CrisisLink is truly grateful to Walk
Coordinators Shannon and Jeff Smith, the
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention,
and to all those who participated in this
year's Out of the Darkness Walk in Reston.
"We consider CrisisLink to be another
resource in which we can further the greater
good of suicide prevention. Being able to
donate to CrisisLink allows us to advance
programs within the communities that came
together at our walk. With AFSP researching
the fundamentals of suicide, educating
professionals, and promoting policies and
legislation that impact suicide and
prevention, and CrisisLink on the front
lines, it seems like a natural partnership.
We are very excited to contribute to
CrisisLink's youth suicide prevention
initiative and hope we are able to make a
difference in someone's life."
--Shannon Riley Smith, Organizer, Reston Out
of the Darkness Walk
View the Reston Out of the Darkness Walk web page.
Thank you for your support!