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November 21st marks Survivors of Suicide Day. In this issue, we highlight CrisisLink's suicide survivor support groups and other resources for those suffering the loss of a loved one.

CrisisLink's 24/7 mental health services guarantee immediate access to help for anyone facing depression, in crisis, or contemplating suicide, regardless of socio-economic status, health insurance coverage, or support network.

This is made possible by the support of people like you. Please consider donating today to ensure continued 24/7 access to support when people need it the most.

 CrisisLink News

Glenn Hediger Establishes Fund in Memory of his son Christopher Hediger
Click here to learn more.

Join us for a Special Kick Off Meeting for LinkUp & Listen 2010!
Click here to learn more.

For CrisisLink's 2-1-1 Information & Referral Hotline, Emergency Financial Assistance Continues to be the Top Need Among Callers
Click here to learn more.

CrisisLink Participates in the 2009 Fairfax NOVA Out of the Darkness Walk to Support Suicide Prevention
Click here to read more and view pictures from the event.

C.J. Cross Running Marathon to Prevent Suicide
Click here to read more.

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities
Click here for more details.

Are you on Facebook?
See who's supporting CrisisLink through Facebook causes and join them today.

SURVEY: We'd like your feedback on our monthly e-newsletter!
Click here to fill out our brief survey.

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 Spotlight on: The Tara Sirmans Survivor HOPE Program

LinkUp & Listen Logo 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. 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 (Help and Outreach for Prevention and Education) Program provides both immediate and ongoing support and resources to individuals throughout the Washington metropolitan area who are impacted by suicide and other forms of sudden and traumatic loss.

The HOPE Program comprises a variety of programs and services that are available to those in need of support:

LOSS Team - offers immediate on-the-scene support and resources to survivors of suicide and other forms of traumatic loss.

Survivor Support Groups - for individuals who have lost someone to suicide. The ongoing, bi-weekly group is designed to help survivors support each other through their complicated grieving process. It is co-led by a mental health clinician.

Postvention Training Workshops - workshops for law enforcement, clergy, social service professionals, funeral directors, mobile crisis teams, survivors, and other community members who work with survivors of suicide and other sudden and traumatic loss.

To request the LOSS Team, please click here.

To request information on CrisisLink's survivor support groups, please click here.

To request a postvention training workshop, please click here.

For more information on CrisisLink's HOPE Program, please click here. 

 Conversations with: A Support Group Member
 One CrisisLink support group member speaks candidly about his experience with CrisisLink's bi-weekly support group

John* is the parent of a college-aged man who died by suicide this past spring. He speaks openly about how the support group has helped him cope with his tremendous grief and how the support group may help others facing the loss of a loved one to suicide.

*Names have been changed to protect the anonymity of CrisisLink's support group members.

How long have you been a part of CrisisLink's support group?

I have been a part of CrisisLink's support group for four months.

What can people expect when they join the support group?
People who join the support group can expect support, advice, comfort, concern, and caring. Information about books, videos, counselors, strategies for coping is shared in meetings. Because the group is facilitated by a trained therapist, it is a very "safe" environment with healthy boundaries and equal opportunities for participation. There is an opportunity to form relationships with others who share this horrible life experience and you get support via email, phone calls, meeting for coffee, etc. The support group "normalizes" one's catastrophic grief. You're all sort of clinging to the same life raft and everybody there "gets it."

Who should attend the support group?
I think all who have suffered the loss of a loved one to suicide would benefit from the group, whether that loss is recent or in the past. The pain, though, is very raw and very broad, so it is probably best to be in a place where you have found some strength in your coping, even if it's minimal. Otherwise, it might be best to be getting one-on-one counseling.

On the other hand, you are never forced to speak or to share, so if you find some comfort in just sitting there silently, even quietly weeping, you would be embraced and accepted. You can participate when you're ready.

What do you like most about the group?
What I like most is that people share their stories, their feelings, their experience, their various manners of coping and you always learn something that helps you get through the next minute, hour, or day. To me, there is an aspect of "well, if they can put one foot in front of the other, so can I." It is also comforting to be with these people who are kind, thoughtful, responsible, caring....and yet they also lost someone they love to suicide. Grief is a very solitary journey and it helps to know others are there on the same rocky path.

I also find that it links me with others whose stores are specifically similar to mine....same relationship lost, same time frame, similar circumstances. I don't feel as alone. We walk along side one another.

Does it help to share and talk with people who have had a similar experience?
Yes. When you think you can't survive the pain, or you just wish you were dead, or you think you are surely losing your mind, it is very, very consoling to have others tell you you can survive (because they are surviving), you will want to live again (one day), and you have not lost your mind.

For more information about CrisisLink's bi-weekly Survivor Support Group, please contact Mary Azoy by email or by phone at (703) 516-6771.


 Tips: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One
 Frequently asked questions

Does anyone know how I feel?
Yes, more than you may realize. About 1 in 4 people know someone who has died by suicide. Each suicide leaves behind a network of family and others who must cope with the same inner turmoil. You are not alone in your struggle.

Why did this happen?
This is the question that will occupy much of your thoughts for some time. You may think you know the answer, but chances are you're only seeing part of the picture. The motivations behind suicide are complex and often cannot be explained.

After a suicide, family members and friends often go over past circumstances, questioning things they should or should not have done. But hindsight is 20-20. If you had known then what you know now, you might have done things differently. But you didn't know, and you'll never know if it would have changed the outcome. Please remember-suicide is an individual choice, and that no one is to blame for this death.

What do I tell people?
Although it may be difficult to speak about suicide openly, it is important for family and friends to be told the truth. This allows you to help each other through your grief. You may choose to say something as brief as, "She died by suicide and I'm not ready to talk about it yet."

What happens during bereavement?
There are usually lots of complex feelings to deal with following a death by suicide-feelings that may differ from those following other types of death.

Emotional responses may include: panic, feelings of abandonment, shock and disbelief, confusion, fear, humiliation, shame, guilt and/or a sense of failure.

You may also feel deep sorrow, anger, or even relief. There is nothing wrong. In feeling that a burden has been lifted, especially if the victim's emotional battles were known. Or you may feel angry because you now have another burden to carry. These feelings are normal. Don't deny them, as they are part of the healing process.

Physical reactions like nausea, numbness, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, or loss of appetite are also normal under the circumstances.

What if this is more than I can bear?
This will probably be the most difficult event you'll have to face. You may never get over the death itself, but you can overcome the grief. Your hope lies in working through it. Don't try to do it alone. There are people who are willing and able to help. For the person you lost, the pain is over. Now it's time to start healing yours.


 Picture of the Month
 CrisisLink staff and volunteers walk it out!

Out of the Darkness Walk From L - R: Marshall Ellis, Development Director; George Mesias, CrisisLink Intern; Mary Azoy, Director of Community Education & Crisis Response; Linda Eatmon-Jones, Executive Director; and Jamie Carter, 2-1-1 Call Center Director.

CrisisLink's staff and volunteers participated in the 2009 Fairfax NOVA Out of the Darkness Walk to raise awareness for suicide prevention and to raise funds to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's critical suicide prevention research, education, and support programs, both nationally and locally.


 Media Corner
 Recent news related to CrisisLink's mission

NPR: Colleges See Rise in Mental Health Issues

San Francisco Chronicle: Parents Shouldn't Avoid Talking About Suicide.

Find links to these and more news items on CrisisLink's blog.


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