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May 2017


"Survivors of Suicide Loss" . . Two (2) Meetings each Month

 Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church 

1801 Montano Rd NW, Albuquerque

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1st & 3rd Monday of Every Month

More information at  :  505 - 400 - 9942





-   May 2017  -

Written & Edited by  :  Al & Linda Vigil

       IN  THIS  ISSUE

Pg 1 :  Grieving Notes - Al V.   
Pg 3 :  A River of Lost Souls
Pg 8 :  Suicide of Semi-Colon Tattoo Creator
Pg 9 :  Suicide Can Strike 5 Year Old Children
Pg 10 : Driven to Suicide by Bullies
Pg 12 : About SOSL and Meetings

By Al Vigil

“Suicide Pain Comes Around to a Full Circle”

Mia Lyn, our middle daughter, completed her suicide in 1984.
She jumped to her death from the San Diego Bay Bridge.
She left her immediate family, Linda and I, and her two sisters, Melinda and Marlo.

In March we were contacted by a young man, Collin Leslie, completing his Masters Degree in Media Arts at SDSU. He was working on his thesis by filming a documentary about ‘Suicide and the San Diego Bay Bridge.’  Our name came up in his deep research about bridge suicides. He read about our work with Suicide Survivors through the years since 1984.  He found out that, we write, we facilitate groups, and we speak,
...and always,  "The Issue Is Suicide."

We have worked very hard with the loss of our Mia to help those who have a related loss, we offers perspectives and experiences that we hope are valuable to other survivors of suicide loss. We are public and we are willing to discuss suicide.
To Collin, we seemed like good candidates for his documentary.
He came to our Albuquerque home for our expected ‘four-hour’ interview.

He opened up his equipment. We sat and began to talk. He checked some notes that he wanted to discuss. He videoed and adjusted his audio several times. We shared about Mia’s eighteen years of life. Her childhood. Her family life. Her dancing talent and her beauty, and her high-school years. And the very difficult relationship between
Mia and with her boy-friend Eric.

We shared a lot about the incredible pain of losing a daughter to suicide.
We shared about her two sisters and their own children. We shared about the
path that our lives had been pulled into after suicide. The impact of
suicide death creates feelings that continue over years and
sometimes even into several family generations.

Collin had several written questions to ask us, but I know that we shared even more than he had expected. We just re-lived our Mia’s suicide afresh.  Linda read with flowing tears and breaking voice, several pages from the journal that Mia was writing on the last few days of her life.  Mia’s handwriting spoke about the mental and physical pain that she was undergoing. A pain so intense, that she eventually ended it, by driving to the highest span of the bridge and jumping 240 feet to her death.

Mia did not leave us a suicide note, but several months after she died,
we wrote her one.  Small parts of it are   . . .“We miss you and so much has changed because of your death. You never said good-by or gave us a chance to say good-by to you.  We have tried to understand your despair and your mystery. We cry when we hear your songs. Of course, we pray that you are at peace. At the end of our days we look forward
to seeing you again.”

  Documentary creator, Collin Leslie, was kind and gentle with us. Eight hours later, exhausted and stunned, we finally finished our filming.   Our oldest daughter, Mindy and her daughter, Courtney, were scheduled to have their own Collin interview coming up in several weeks.  Interesting enough that interview would also include Mia’s boyfriend Eric, at the time of her death.  Later after their four hour session, the pain in Courtney’s heart, said,
“ -it feels like I just lost my aunt Mia once again.”

Th documentary is probably still about ‘Suicide and the San Diego Bay Bridge.’   But the title may well now become  ‘Suicide Effect on Three Generations.’  We don’t know who will see this documentary, but we hope that those viewing it, will be effected in their own lives into a positive direction as they ‘choose life’ for themselves.

Linda and I, our daughters, and their children, will mourn Mia’s death forever.
We are forever changed.

Grief never ends ...but it changes.
It’s a passage, not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith.
It’s the price of love !



       A River of Lost Souls Runs Through Western Colorado
                                                       By Amy Ellis Nutt,  Nov. 6, 2016

LA PLATA COUNTY, COLO. — The river gallops past ghost towns and plunges through canyons of quiet before tumbling into the old mining town of Durango. Legend has it that the Spanish christened these waters more than 300 years ago toAnimas River honor a small band of conquistadors who died on its banks without receiving the sacrament of last rites. They called it El Rio de las Animas Perdidas. The River of Lost Souls.

Today, some 53,000 people live in Durango and the surrounding county of La Plata. And all along the Animas, people are still dying before their time, particularly women in midlife, succumbing not to diabetes or heart disease, but to suicide.

Two-and-a-half times as many people die by suicide as homicide in this country; among whites in 2014, it was nearly nine times as many, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although more men than women take their own lives, the rate of suicide has nearly doubled among middle-aged white women since 1999 — rising from 7 per 100,000 to 12.6 in 2014 — helping to explain a startling increase in their early mortality.

The numbers are even worse for middle-aged white women with a high school diploma or less. For them, the suicide rate has more than doubled over the past 15 years, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal health data. Most of the victims lived in small towns and rural areas, particularly in the Southeast and in mountain states, where social isolation can be acute.

Colorado has the fourth-highest suicide rate in the nation for white women ages 45 to 54. Among Colorado counties with a population of at least 30,000, La Plata has the highest.

Since 2007, 14 middle-aged white women have killed themselves here. The Post looked at half of those cases and found Coloradostriking commonalities: Most worked physically demanding jobs. Most suffered from chronic pain. And most struggled with mental-health issues that, surviving friends and relatives say, were addressed through psychiatric medications that were ultimately ineffective.

Nationally, many mental-health experts have raised concerns about the growing use of such medications for everything from insomnia to ordinary loneliness. Between 1999 and 2013, psychiatric drug prescriptions shot up by 117 percent.

The number of prescriptions written by non-psychiatrists also has risen. As many as 80 percent of all antidepressant prescriptions are written by physicians who are not psychiatrists, multiple studies have found, and doctors often give the drugs to people who have received no psychiatric diagnosis. Studies also show that the drugs work only about half the time and can produce side effects, such as anxiety and sleeplessness, that mimic worsening symptoms.

Women are far more likely than men to receive these prescriptions: In the United States today, nearly 1 in 4 white women ages 50 to 64 is taking an antidepressant, according to federal health officials. No expert suggests that these medications are driving the increase in suicide among this population. Research into that question is difficult, because many women on psychotropic drugs are already prone to depression and suicide. PhRMA, which represents the nation’s biggest drug companies, declined to comment for this story.

Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the nonprofit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said the presence of multiple medications may suggest that the patient’s mental illness was particularly difficult to treat.

“When I hear that someone is on more than three psychotropic medications, that tells me their doctor was going after the condition because the person didn’t respond to the first medication,” Moutier said. “There is a case to be made for rational polypharmacy.”

However, Moutier added that multiple prescriptions can also suggest “suboptimal treatment.” And for women who believe depressed womanthe drugs hold the promise of a cure, other medical experts said, their failure can induce a withering spiral of hopelessness.

“There’s all kinds of reasons to be depressed, and doctors are not attending to them anymore,” said Joel Paris, a professor of psychiatry at Canada’s McGill University. “What doctors are being told is, if the patient isn’t getting better, then you need to add another two or three [medications] to the regime. The issue that antidepressants help about half the time is absolutely right.”

The western slope of the Rockies has always had higher-than-average suicide rates, people venturing westward in search of excitement or escape and finding neither. For Pamela Beckert, Colorado was just another place to start over.

Born in Ohio, Beckert grew up in Arizona. She was married twice but largely raised her son on her own. After Beckert’s father died in the 1990s, and with her son grown, she became a nomad, moving first to Fort Worth, then to Durango. Nothing felt permanent, including her jobs — a waitress in a bar, a process server, a security guard for Planned Parenthood. She had trouble paying rent, and sometimes her moods vacillated wildly. Through Medicaid, she received psychiatric medication from a Durango health clinic: Wellbutrin to raise her spirits; Lamictal to even out the mood swings; Klonopin for anxiety; Seroquel, an antipsychotic, to sleep.

Sometime in the months before her death, Beckert stopped taking all of them and began stockpiling the pills. “It had become so dark at the end,” said Beckert’s son, Sean Dillman, who lives in Arizona. “I look back and I’ll always wonder what I could have done. But her demeanor was always the same  . . . I had no idea, no clue this is where she was at.”

No longer able to afford her apartment, Beckert bunked with a friend and worried about where she would go next. When she asked a caseworker at the clinic about temporary housing, the young woman suggested Beckert live out of her Jeep at the back of the vast Walmart parking lot. Surely no one would notice her there. Pamela Beckert died of an overdose in this parking lot in Durango, Colo.

Wendy Faye Miller passed that Walmart on Route 550 nearly every day for decades. Most often, she was driving home from her bartending job at the Purgatory Mountain ski area, the road weaving around the Animas River, where the outdoors woman loved to raft and fish.

PillsMiller couldn’t wait to move to Durango. She left Waterford, Mich., at 17, missing her high school graduation to follow the man who would become her first husband. That was 42 years ago.

About five miles east of downtown and half a mile past a sign that reads “Pavement Ends,” Miller lived in a mobile home until last December. A sagging porch and a tin roof secured with concrete bricks betray the home’s age. Most days, the only sounds are distant dogs barking at strange cars and the crunch of pickups passing on the unpaved road. When she lived here, Miller owned two horses until she was forced to sell them to pay bills. Her most beloved possession: a pearly white Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

“She loved to ski. The outdoor lifestyle. She never grew out of it. Ever,” said her only sibling, younger sister Lorrie Searle, who still lives in Michigan.

In addition to tending bar, Miller shoveled snow in the winter and sprayed mosquitoes for the county in the summer. Nearly all her life she also cleaned homes and businesses, including the office where her daughter, Autumn Concepcion, now works. It wasn’t easy: Miller had had two back surgeries for injuries suffered while breaking up a bar fight and falling down the stairs carrying a keg of beer.

Autumn Concepcion’s mother, Wendy Miller, killed herself at age 59. Autumn said she was very close to her mother and continues to grieve. The woman with the quick smile didn’t like being alone. She was an alcoholic, according to family and friends, but careful to conceal her misery. Only her daughter saw her mother’s sadness.

“I could see her in town and she’d be fine, laughing, and then talk to her 20 minutes later at home, and it would be totally different,” Concepcion said. “Even her voice would change.”

Miller’s daughter suggested she see a mental-health counselor in Durango. More than half of all counties in the United States  —all of them rural—  have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers, according to a 2013 federal report. In La Plata County, only one mental-health clinic accepted Medicaid. Miller, unfortunately, qualified for Medicaid only part of the year, when she wasn’t earning wages above the federal poverty limit. Otherwise, she would have to pay on a sliding scale, and the scale didn’t slide quite enough. Miller visited just once.

 “She hid her pain,” said Crystal Andasola, a close friend. “She was a broken  person, with a broken spirit, a broken soul.”  Charlotte Sieber hanged herself when  she was 54.

Charlotte Sieber fought depression for years, and then she battled her own medications. The Sweden native was a flight attendant when she met her future husband, Brad, more than 30 years ago. They settled in a small, fruit-tree-laden enclave just north of downtown Durango, where they had two children. He was a UPS driver; she found a job in a local clothing store. But 20 years ago, after injuring her neck and back in a series of automobile accidents, she could no longer work, and she spiraled into depression.

“If she had a great day, it was usually two or three weeks before there was another,” said Sieber’s husband.

The psychiatric medications doctors prescribed seemed to work only for a short time (when they did at all): the med bottlesantidepressant Effexor, Wellbutrin, Klonopin, Seroquel. There were others, too, but none offered long-term relief.

“Multiple drugs overload the system in ways we can’t predict,” said Rene Muller, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins. “Everyone metabolizes drugs differently, which also affects how they interact with each other.”

Four years ago, Charlotte Sieber met Jennifer Roeder, who told of her own travails trying to come off psychiatric medications when they failed to help her feel less depressed.

“It was the first time she heard that maybe the drugs were hurting, not helping,” Roeder said.

Sieber began to slowly wean herself off her many medications, tapering the drugs one at a time, according to family and friends, though she often had to stop to let her body and mind recover.

“It’s really hard to withdraw from antidepressants,” said New York psychiatrist and pharmacology expert Julie Holland. In some cases, “people feel like cold water is running down their spine. They can feel their brain sloshing around, or electric zaps in their head.”

By July 2015, Sieber had successfully discontinued all but one of her psychiatric medications.

“One of her worst [side effects] was sleep. She could not sleep,” said Pati Wolfe, who often joined Sieber in the struggle to withdraw from drugs. “This went on for months and months. Maybe a couple of hours a night was all she would get.”

It was so bad that Sieber had to move out of the bedroom she shared with her husband so he could get some sleep. Heart palpitations, obsessive worrying and anxiety clouded her nights. She lost weight and sometimes told friends it was too hard to talk to them.

Toward the end of July 2015, Sieber texted Roeder: “I know I’m in a state of shock, never been this sick in my whole life.

Of course the long process of tapering (6 years in Nov.) has worn me out.”   Over the next two months, Sieber mostly retreated to her room, where she wrote in a journal and painted delicate pastoral scenes on seashells she had collected at the shore. At other times, she sat out back on an island deck, under the scrub oak and beside a stream that branches off a creek that branches off the River of Lost Souls.

Pamela Beckert, 54, died Sunday, Jan. 15, 2013, after telling a friend, with whom she was living, that she might be late.

“It’s going to get really, really cold. Don’t wait up for me,” Beckert told her. “I know my way home.”

A week later, friends found her body, clad in a white winter jacket and jeans, a pair of mittens and clogs beside her. Beckert had bought a light blanket at Walmart and a cup of tea at Starbucks, downed dozens of pills from six different bottles of psychiatric medication, then lay down in the back of her Jeep Wrangler — at the far end of the Walmart parking lot.

Wendy Miller, 59, died on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. It snowed hard all day in La Plata County, and Miller fell while leaving a house she had cleaned that afternoon. She was scheduled that evening to clean her daughter’s workplace, but Concepcion called to tell her they’d closed early. Miller asked her daughter to let her know when she got home safely, and at about 6 p.m. she did. Her mother texted back: “good, thank you, xoxo.”

Miller was probably already home by then, after stopping to buy a fifth of McCormick vodka, which she nearly finished that night. About 9 p.m., she was on Facebook, making plans for her 60th birthday party in January. At one point she smoked a little pot, which usually helped her sleep. Then, sometime after 9:30 p.m., Wendy Miller crawled into bed, put a .38 Special in her mouth, and pulled the trigger.

Her shopping list was still on the kitchen table: dish towels, laundry soap, milk.  Shopping list

No one knows what Charlotte Sieber, 54, was doing in the hours before her death on Nov. 11, 2015. She was alone in her bedroom that Wednesday afternoon, with her 26-year-old son on the computer in the next room.  Two weeks earlier, her husband, Brad, had called a suicide hotline. They told him to take her to the hospital, but he knew that was the last place his wife would go, afraid she’d be given even more medications.

The final text Jennifer Roeder received from her friend had come five weeks earlier. Sieber had told her: “I’ve been really really bad, however it makes me feel worse talking about it . . . Trust me, I just need the pain and suffering (anxiety/fear/panic) to go away, not to mention the insomnia!”

Sieber hanged herself from a rope thrown over a rod in a small closet in her bedroom. Later, her husband found a belt from one of her dresses, torn in half and thrown in the trash. It had taken her two tries to die.

After his wife’s death, Brad Sieber’s anger banged its fist against his grief. Furiously, he scoured the house for the bottles Grieving manof pills he believed had driven his wife to take her life. He found them in the medicine chest, the kitchen cabinets, the drawers of her desk — two dozen of them, maybe more — and poured them all, one by one, down the toilet. Then Sieber threw the bottles and all his wife’s medical files into a garbage bag and dragged the load out of the house.

Beyond the rock garden, the apple trees and the stream from the creek from the River of Lost Souls, he spilled all those decades of pain into the backyard fire pit. And as the pyre burned into the twilight, Brad Sieber watched and wept.



       Semicolon Creator of the Semicolon Tattoo,
         For Suicide Awareness

            - Dies by Suicide

The woman who created the semicolon tattoo project for suicide awareness, died on March 31st, 2017. Amy Bleuel died by suicide at the age of 31, her organization confirmed.  She was taken by the illness she fought to publicize.  She died at her own hand - guided by an illness that can often be unrelenting and merciless. The urge to end one’s life only fades when the pain fades. Amy’s pain never faded.

Her obituary says she was born in Wausau and graduated from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Bleul started Project Semicolon to help people battling depression and self-harm.

Project Semicolon was founded in 2013 as a way for Bleuel to honor her father, who she lost to suicide at her age of 18, and to provide hope and support to others who struggle with mental illness, suicide, addiction, and self-injury. "Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire," the organization says Facebook.

Amy Bleuel struggled with mental illness and previous suicide attempts. She spoke openly about this and encouraged others to learn about mental illness and open up about the struggles and stigma surrounding it. Bleul was very candid about herAmy Buell personal journey and recovery on social media. Many people who have been affected by suicide or have attempted suicide themselves are opting to get semicolon tattoos as permanent reminders of the struggle and the choice to keep living.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and it is estimated that for every suicide, there are 25 suicide attempts. But knowing the warning signs of suicide can save lives.

Since its beginning in 2013, Project Semicolon has gained worldwide attention and support, with the semicolon tattoo being its main source of spreading solidarity among mental health advocates. The Project Semicolon was created to support and honor those struggling with suicide, depression, self-injury and addiction.

“The inspiration behind the viral semicolon tattoo,” Bleuel said, “came from literature, where an author uses a semicolon to not end a sentence but to continue on. We see it as you are the author and your life is the sentence. You’re choosing to keep going."


 Suicide Can Strike Children as Young as Five

          A startling new study warns that some preteen children
                         – even as young as 5 years old – may be at risk of suicide.

“Adults need to realize that school-age children as young as 5 kill themselves,” said Dr. Gregory Fritz, director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. He was not involved with the study, but is familiar with the findings.

5 year old suicideHowever, the study authors stressed that it’s rare for young children to die by suicide. Kids between the ages of 5 and 11 have a suicide rate of 0.17 per 100,000 children. For teens from 12 to 17, that number rises to 5.18 per 100,000, according to background information from the study.

According to Fritz, mental health specialists used to believe that young children couldn’t kill themselves. Experts thought kids “were not capable of suicide because it couldn’t be as hopeless as it was often seen to be required, or they didn’t have a sense of time or an understanding of the permanence of death.”

But children do die by suicide. “It happens. Not every day, but not that infrequently. That’s a very painful thing for adults to consider, but we have to confront that reality. Adults need to take even little kids seriously when they talk about suicide,” Fritz said.

Even now, he said, “most people outside of the mental health  professions are aghast when they think of a 6-year-old trying to kill himself. They think, ‘Are you kidding, how can that be true?’”

“Elementary school-aged children who died by suicide were more likely to experience relationship problems with their family members or friends, while early adolescents who died by suicide were more likely to experience boyfriend or girlfriend problems,” Sheftall said.

Almost four out of 10 suicides involving children aged 5 to 11 were black children, mostly boys. Neither Sheftall nor Fritz had theories as to why the rate is so high. Sheftall noted that blacks in general tend to have lower rates of suicide than whites.

One-third of the suicide victims had a mental health problem, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) the most common one – 60 percent. ADHD  can make people impulsive.

“This suggests that children who die by suicide may be more vulnerable as a group to respond impulsively to interpersonal challenges,” Sheftall said. But, she cautioned that the study doesn’t show that ADHD causes suicide.

Fritz said it can be difficult to help these kids because their thoughts change rapidly. “They may not be thinking about suicide now, and then a day later they are. That makes it challenging,” he said.

Among the older kids with a mental health condition, depression was the most common disorder – 66 percent. depressed childSuffocation and strangulation (such as hanging) were the most common methods of suicide among the younger children. For the older group, deaths by firearm  were more common, the study found.

Given how unnerving these findings are, what can adults do to prevent suicide by young children?

“It is important to ask children directly about suicide if there is a safety concern,” Sheftall said. “Parents can ask,  ‘Are you having thoughts about killing yourself?’ Asking kids about suicide is safe and does not put ideas into their heads,” she added. If a child says “yes,”  the parent can call their pediatrician or take the child to the nearest emergency department, Sheftall said.

Fritz said adults should ask children about suicide if they’re displaying behavior problems, showing signs of unhappiness, or doing impulsive or dangerous things: “Are you doing this to hurt yourself, do you wish you were not alive, are things so bad that you wish you could die?” he said.

The study was published online Sept. 19 in The Journal Pediatrics 


 Driven to Suicide By Bullies  Bullying
                  JAMES TOZER, Daily Mail

    A distraught mother has claimed that her 11-year-old son was driven to suicide by bullies at his school.

    Thomas Thompson took an overdose of painkillers after other pupils picked on him because he was clever and well-spoken, she said.

    Sandra Thompson found her son in his bedroom when she returned home from work in the evening. Thomas is believed to be the youngest child to take his own life because of alleged bullying.

    Coming so soon after similar cases, his death will add fuel to the debate over what to do about the bullying problem.

    Miss Thompson, a shop assistant, said her son's ordeal began at Riverside Primary School near their home in Wallasey, Wirral, Merseyside. It was thought the situation might have eased last September when he started his secondary education at Wallasey School in nearby Moreton, but the bullying continued.

    His 33-year-old mother, who also has an eight-year-old daughter, Alexandra, said: "He told me how they got at him every day - trying to strangle him with his tie, poking him.
    "It was like torture. They'd call him names like 'gay boy' and 'fatso'. He didn't really fit in with other boys his age. He was extremely clever and loved reading and doing his schoolwork. So they teased and tormented him relentlessly - just because he was a bit different. These bullies killed my son."
    Thomas frequently missed classes. On the day of his death, he had got off the school bus to escape the bullies. Miss Thompson said she had spoken to Thomas's teachers, but the school claimed the only reported incident had been at a bus stop and involved children from another school.
    Describing him as an "extremely intelligent boy", She added: "The whole school has been deeply shocked and saddened by Thomas's death."
    Wirral Council said the school's commitment to eradicating bullying is widely admired and this made Thomas's death particularly sad.

    But Dr. Michele Elliott, director of child protection group Kidscape, said: "Thomas's death is a terrible waste of a life. At 11 years old, he should have been living a carefree life and looking forward to the summer holidays.
    "The bullies apparently responsible for his death, and anyone who stood by and watched it happen passively, should be punished."

    Last month 16-year-old Karl Peart took an overdose of painkillers after suffering what his family called a lifetime of bullying.

    Two weeks later, Gemma Dimmick, a 15-year-old at the same school - Hirst High, in Ashington, Northumberland - also committed suicide. Relatives claimed she too had been bullied. Also last month, nine-year-old Jessica O'Connell's parents revealed the diary she kept of her suffering at St Wilfred Roman Catholic School in Ripon, North Yorkshire, as she was driven to the brink of suicide by bullies.



August 2016

"Survivors Of Suicide Loss" . . . Six (6) Meetings each Month

 Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church  1801 Montano Rd NW, Albuquerque

Monday May 1st  &   Monday May 15th : 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   AND   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

 Rust / Presbyterian Medical Center  2400 Unser Blvd SE, Rio Rancho

Monday May 8th  &   Monday May 22nd  : 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   AND   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Grief Resource Center  1113 University Blvd NE, Albuquerquqe

Thursday May 4th  &  Thursday May 18th   :  7:00 to 8:30 p.m.



- 2016 -

Written & Edited by  :  Al & Linda Vigil


Linda Vigil

Over the years I have watched broken people come through the doors of our Survivors of Suicide Loss support group, (SOSL.)   Al and I try to welcome each and everyone, giving them a  ‘New-Comer' folder and  reaching out, trying to connect with them on  personal level.  The folder has so much literature, that they look at us like  "...do you really expect me to read all this?  Does this really matter?"  

We explain to them what information we need and why. They are so truly broken. They are looking for answers —their biggest question is ...WHY?  And they question how they can go on?  They believe that they will never be happy or normal again. Then the tears flow from newly broken people.
They never realized how many tears a person could cry in a twenty-four hour period.

The all consuming anguish we survivors experience in the early days, weeks, months, and even years of our loss —eventually gentles into manageable sorrow. Although we never "get over it."  
We do get on with "it" and we can find a new normal in our forever changed life.

We have come to understand that the relationship we had with the loved one we lost by suicide did not end at the grave or the cremation. The connections and impacts go on forever. Some of our survivors attend many months ...some for several years.  They attend and listen to the many, many stories, and they share their own story ...over and over again, with the group.  They have found more people sharing their grief journey, than they dreamed possible, and with time, they begin to act as a peer facilitators.  They share more deeply with others that they can relate too.  They begin to see how their shared experience could help others.  They find that it is truly a privilege to be a participant on the most intimate, most sacred exchange of human emotion imaginable —grief.  Every one is changed and healed by it.

Graces that happen in that environment are beyond words. We can choose to help alleviate suffering any way or place we can. That is what SOSL is about. By attending meetings and doing everything we can do to preserve our mental and emotional health.  So we can help others that are walking the same path of healing.

We cannot thank survivors enough for stepping up and helping us out with leadership, concern, and the deepest caring for our ‘new' broken survivors who walk through the doors of SOSL, looking for ways to go on with their lives.  And yes, get on with their new journey and with their choice to find a new normal and a choice to be happy again. 

                                                                   — In Sharing and Healing : Linda V.

 All About  Fear

Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger —if we didn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate threats. Often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal fears can be the best way to move past them."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    The (Only) 5 Fears We All Share  :  By Karl Albrecht Ph.D

President Franklin Roosevelt famously asserted,  "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."

I think he was right: Fear of fear probably causes more problems in our lives than fear itself. That claim needs a bit of explaining, I know.

Fear has gotten a bad rap among most human beings. And it's not nearly as complicated as we try to make it. A simple and useful definition of fear is: An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.

Medical experts tell us that the anxious feeling we get when we're afraid is a standardized biological reaction. It's pretty much the same set of body signals, whether we're afraid of getting bitten by a dog, getting turned down for a date, or getting our taxes audited.

Fear, like all other emotions, is basically information. It offers us knowledge and understanding—if we choose to accept it—of our psychobiological status.
And there are only five basic fears, out of which almost all of our other so-called fears are manufactured.  These five are:

EXTINCTION—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it "fear of death." The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.

MUTILATION—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body's boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.

LOSS OF AUTONOMY—THE fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it's commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships.

SEPARATION —the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The "silent treatment," when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on its target.

 EGO-DEATH —the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one's constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.


        From the  -  Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation
                        What to Do If You Someone You Know is Depressed or Suicidal

DepressionSuicide isn't just an ugly word. For those who have loved ones who are depressed and suicidal, it can be terrifying.  It is a global problem, as each year more than a million people die by suicide. That's one suicide every 19 seconds.

And the problem is only getting worse, as over the last 45 years the worldwide suicide rates have increased by 60%.  The US isn't spared from this problem at all. The most recent CDC data reveals that in 2012, about 40,600 cases of suicide were reported.

In addition, the problem isn't limited to just one age group. While the highest suicide rates were among the people from 45 to 59 years old, it is also an existing problem among the youth.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 24, and the #3 cause of death for kids age 12 to 18 as well as college-age adults.

In fact, if you combine the number of fatalities brought on by AIDS, cancer, birth defects, heart disease, chronic lung disease, influenza, pneumonia, and stroke, it is still less than the number of fatalities caused by suicide.

. . . . .    SOME   WARNING  SIGNS     . . . . .   

But for many of us, suicide is not a statistical situation. This is especially true if you have a suicidal son or suicidal daughter, or if you have a suicidal friend. It's a deeply personal issue, and of course you want to help.

If your child is beset by depression or if you have a depressed friend, it's only natural for us to be concerned and worried about our loved one.

           Here are some warning signs to look out for :      Know the Signs

1. They talk about taking their own life. This in itself is enough for you to be very concerned.

2.  They take unnecessary risks or repeatedly engage life threatening activities, such as abusing drugs or driving recklessly.

3. They harm themselves, such as cut themselves or bang their heads against the wall.

4. They talk to other people in such a way as if they won't see them ever again.

5. Perhaps they may even engage in rather indirect conversation that's vaguely suicidal. For example, they may wonder aloud if you'll miss them when they're' gone, or if suicide is wrong or painful.

6. They're getting their affairs in order, such as giving away their wealth and possessions.

7. They actively procure the items they need to commit suicide, such a gun or hoard dangerous pills.

8. They suddenly stop seeing or talking to other people and withdraw from their social circles.

9. You notice that they exhibit extreme mood swings, such as being enthusiastic one day and then extremely down the next day.

10. Their sleeping and eating patterns have drastically changed.
    What You Can DoCan do
It's a natural thing to want to help your suicidal friend or suicidal son or daughter. Actually, your help is essential and could very well save their life.

  If you're concerned because you have noticed at least one of the warning signs of suicide in your loved one, you should not simply ignore your fears and hope you're wrong.

   If you're not sure of what to do, or if you think you need to do something immediately, then you need to get some professional help. You can call 911, or you can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  

   It's alright to call for help even if you think you're over your head. Not everyone is cut out to provide the kind of help that a depressed friend needs.

   In fact, you should call a professional even if you think you can handle the matter yourself. For things like this, the opinions of a trained professional can't hurt.

   You can also talk to your suicidal daughter or son, by asking direct questions. Ask them about what's bothering them, and you can even ask directly if they're contemplating suicide.

   When they speak, your job is to listen to them—as in really listen. Don't rush, don't cut them off, and don't say anything judgmental.

You're talking to them because you care, and that's what you need to let them understand.

   And when they talk, all you can do is offer support and sympathy. Don't try to berate them for having these suicidal feelings, don't say it's a sin, and don't give advice or offer ways of solving their problems.

        As a friend or family member, you have two responsibilities. You can offer sympathy and concern, and at the same time you should talk to a real professional who can advise you on what to do, depending on the circumstances.


Pulling the Trigger             

By Sarah McAfee

     Two weeks before my oldest cousin's twenty-third birthday, he shot and killed himself. It scarred our family. The kind of jagged, gnarled scar, like a poorly-filled pothole, that—even though it's been nearly twenty years—you still run your fingers across from time to time and feel the sting of a fresh wound.

     We weren't all that close, but as a 14-year-old, sorting through my own perceptions of self-worth and fears about the future at the time of his death, I felt it very deeply. It was the first time a loved one of mine had committed suicide, but it would not be the last. Not even close. 

I want to talk about guns. It's controversial, fraught with partisan politics, and the conversation always seems to focus on the fringe issues. We argue about whether we need armed employees at schools or campus gun bans, but the number of deaths from school shootings is very, very small compared to the total number of gun-related deaths (although we all believe the number should be zero). We argue about ways to fix the mental health care system so we keep guns out of the wrong hands, but the connection between mental illness and violence is weak (although we all believe the mental health care system absolutely needs improvement). Those are not the issues I want to talk about (today, at least).

Personal experience always trumps rhetoric, so for me, when I think about guns, it is suicide and its impact on families and communities that weighs on my mind. Unlike the other gun issues we debate, this one is, statistically, the biggest issue related to guns in the US: Americans are far more likely to kill themselves than each other. In 2012, nearly two-thirds of all firearm deaths were suicides, and the number is rising. In fact, firearm homicides have been decreasing since 2006, despite the proliferation of media attention the issue is currently receiving.

Suicide is unquestionably a mental health problem, and an especially big problem in western states like Colorado. But it's a gun problem, too. Of all those who attempt suicide, 9% die; of those who attempt suicide with a gun, 85% die. According to the CDC, more than half of suicide deaths involved firearms—over 21,000 in 2013. That's about the same as the number of deaths from Leukemia each year, and at that scale, it's hard to deny that guns are a public health issue.

 Furthermore, the hard truth is that simply having a firearm in your house increases the likelihood of death by suicide for every member of your household, in the same way that smoking around your family increases everyone's chances of dying from lung cancer. Without banning cigarettes and shutting down manufacturers, we've still managed to significantly reduce their negative effects on the general population. If we're willing to have a thoughtful, civil discussion around how we limit exposure of vulnerable populations to guns, one that recognizes that there isn't a single solution, but that we need a multi-faceted, commonsense approach, then we can make progress on this issue, too.

I want our leaders and our country to keep talking about guns, because we haven't found our common ground yet. I want our communities to talk about public safety, crime, and individual liberties, but not let fear guide our policymaking. And, I want us all to talk about the lives that are at stake, and the loved ones we've lost. Suicide has always been a taboo way to die—a cause of death that's quietly left out of obituaries—and access to a gun facilitates it. The human cost of our silence is too great; so let's talk about it.
        For David, and all the others.


                       Palo Alto Youth : Investigation after Five Teens
                                    Kill Themselves in Just over a Year

    Since October 2014, five high school students or recent graduates in Palo Alto, California have committed suicide.  Another Crisis on campussix teens killed themselves from 2009 to 2010 Investigators with the CDC will be arriving in Palo Alto this week to investigate the two suicide clusters. Most of the victims killed themselves by jumping in front of trains.

Numerous news reports have pegged the town's over achieving culture as a possible cause for the string of tragedies.  Prestigious Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, and the town is home to many employees at Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook.

A team of mental health experts from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is scheduled to be in California this week to investigate a series of suicides by teenagers in the affluent university town of Palo Alto.

Santa Clara County officials took the unusual step of inviting the CDC to do an epidemiological study on the teen suicide problem that has anguished Palo Alto parents, teachers and young people for at least seven years, the San Jose Mercury News reported.  The team, which includes representatives from both the CDC and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has spent the last three months working with the county Public Health Department to gather data on suicides, suicide attempts and suicidal behavior among Santa Clara County youth.

Starting Tuesday, its members plan to spend two weeks on the ground meeting with local doctors and community leaders, according to the Mercury News.  Their research also will include evaluating existing suicide prevention programs, reviewing media coverage of the teen suicides and identifying the factors that might put Palo Alto's youth at greater risk, CDC spokeswoman Courtney Lenard told the newspaper.

Six teenagers from Palo Alto, the home of Stanford University, killed themselves in 2009 to 2010 events that triggered public forums, peer-run support groups and police patrols at the commuter train tracks where some of the young people ended their lives.

Yet five more teens committed suicide in 2014/15.  From 2010 through 2014, an average of 20 minors and young adults a year died by suicide in Santa Clara County as a whole.  Palo Alto officials asked the state and county to request the CDC evaluation expert puzzleafter hearing of a suicide assessment the agency conducted last year in Fairfax, Virginia, where 85 people between the ages of 10 and 24 killed themselves in a five-year period.

The Fairfax County study concluded that among the possible risk factors facing young people there were an inadequate number of school counselors, stigma and denial around mental illness, pressure to excel academically and bullying through social media.  A preliminary report on the situation in Palo Alto is expected to be completed soon after the site visit.  The worrying trend of suicides first gripped the Palo Alto community in 2009, when five teens in less than a year killed themselves by jumping in front of oncoming trains.

The first in the string of suicides was 17-year-old Jean-Paul Blanachard, who attended Gunn High School. His mother said in 2014 that he may have had an untreated mental disorder.  Blanchard's death was followed a month later by the death of 17-year-old Sonya Raymakers, who killed herself in her final week of high school. She had been accepted to NYU.

In August of that year, the youngest victim took her life, 13-year-old Catrina Holmes who was set to start at Gunn just four days later.  According to her father, she left behind a suicide note saying she hated the 'b****y community' at her middle school.   


                SUICIDE and RELIGION          
                                                         By  Harold G. Koenig, MD

Suicide is not a popular topic that most people are anxious to read about. However, it is a serious problem, is commonly associated with depression, and often occurs when depression treatments fail. This article focuses on this most feared consequence of depression (although often not feared by the person overwhelmed with      hopelessness). The atheist Nietzsche, known for his famous quote "God is dead," wrote that "The thought of suicide Religion and prayeris a great consolation: by means of it one gets successfully through many a bad night." The pain of depression and a meaningless life is sometimes so great that the only hope of ever escaping the horrible feelings lies in the possibility of ending life itself, and for those like Nietzsche, the thought of ceasing to exist is more bearable than continuing on in this emotional state. How is religious involvement related to suicide or feelings about suicide?

Before answering that question, however, I'd like to provide the reader with a little background on suicide. Every year in the United States about 35,000 people die from suicide. This is probably an underestimate since people kill themselves in many ways not reported as suicide, such as car accidents or simply failing to take life-saving medication. Even though underreported, suicide is still the 4th leading cause of death for those aged 18 to 65 in the U.S. The yearly suicide rate in this country is 11 per 100,000, which is the same as it was in 1902 despite the emergence of modern treatments. Each day nearly 2,300 persons attempt suicide and 90 of those individuals are successful. The rate of suicide is highest in adults over age 75, probably due to difficulty coping with the loss of loved ones, health, and independence associated with advancing age.

Depression is the most common cause of suicide,  but there are other factors that also play a role: anger, need for control, and impulsiveness; social isolation; alcohol and drug abuse; and certain medications, including antidepressants in adolescents or young adults and narcotic pain killers in middle-aged and older adults. Chronic medical illness increases the risk of suicide, especially in diseases associated with moderate or severe pain, urinary incontinence, seizure disorder, or severe physical disability. Genetic factors may also play a role, as the latest research is beginning to discover.

Cultural risk factors for suicide include the stigma associated with seeking help, barriers to getting adequate mental health care, media exposure to suicide, and believing that suicide over personal problems is acceptable. In Asian families and other groups, factors influencing suicide include attitudes towards a woman's role in marriage, dominance of extended family systems, and family loyalty overriding individual concerns. Although all major religions condemn suicide for emotional or personal reasons, they are not all equal in this regard. Religions with strong prohibitions against suicide are Islam, Judaism, and Christianity (especially Catholics and conservative Protestants). While the Eastern religions Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Hinduism generally oppose suicide, they are more accepting of it than Western religions. In Buddhism, for example, while suicide is discouraged for those who are unenlightened, once enlightenment has been achieved, it may be permissible under certain circumstances. Likewise, although Hinduism condemns suicide in general as an escape from life and cause for bad karma, self-willed death may be allowed through fasting in terminal disease or severe disability (called "prayopavesa").

Religious beliefs and practices may influence suicide risk not only because they forbid it, but also because of their relationship to psychological, social, behavioral, and physical factors that lead to suicide. Since religious involvement is associated with better school performance, greater conscientiousness, improved coping with stressful life events, less depression, faster recovery from depression, and is a source of hope and meaning, it could reduce suicide through these pathways. Furthermore, loneliness and lack of support are strong predictors of suicide particularly among women, and involvement in a faith community may help to increase social support and neutralize social isolation. Likewise, since alcohol and drug abuse are frequently involved in suicide attempts and completed suicide and religious involvement is related to less alcohol and drug use, this is another way that suicide may be prevented. Finally, one of the strongest risk factors for suicide is poor health and physical disability. If religious persons drink less alcohol, use fewer drugs, smoke fewer cigarettes, and engage in healthier behaviors, then physical health may also better and diseases that increase suicide risk fewer.

Although the above logic seems rational, what does objective, systematic research find with regard to the relationship between religion and suicide? Among studies that have compared different denominations, more studies find that Catholics are at lower risk for suicide than studies that find Protestants at lower risk, although may of those studies were done prior to the year 1990. Jews have a suicide risk neither greater nor less than Christians or other groups. Studies on Muslims have found a lower suicide risk compared to other groups, although reporting bias may have been an issue. Overall, then, Catholics have a slight advantage over other denominations within Christianity, although denomination tells us very little about a person's risk for suicide.

What about the relationship between suicide and religiousness or religiosity? Does the intensity or degree of religious belief/practice make a difference? In our systematic review of the research published in the Handbook of Religion and Health, Second Edition (Jan/Feb 2012 forthcoming), we identified 141 studies that measuredWhy do bad things happen religiousness and correlated it with suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide. Three-quarters (106 of 141) found less suicidal thoughts and behaviors among those who were more religious. Furthermore, there is every reason to think that religious interventions in religious patients at risk for suicide may help to lower the risk; however, since no clinical trials have examined this possibility, these interventions should be administered with caution (and should not replace traditional psychiatric care). Furthermore, while religious beliefs and practice may help to prevent suicide in laypersons, it may be a different story in clergy. When clergy become severely depressed or hopeless, suicide risk may be quite high and the need for professional treatment urgent. 


      Suicide Rate Again on the Increase
                 - Surges to a 30-Year High -
                                              By SABRINA TAVERNISE   NY Times APRIL 2016

WASHINGTON — Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s.

The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

The increases were so widespread that they lifted the nation's suicide rate to 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. The rate rose by 2 percent a year starting in 2006, double the annual rise in the earlier period of the study. In all, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014, compared with 29,199 in 1999.

Rising rateFrom 1999 to 2014, suicide rates in the United States rose among most age groups. Men and women from 45 to 64 had a sharp increase. Rates fell among those age 75 and older.
"It's really stunning to see such a large increase in suicide rates affecting virtually every age group," said Katherine Hempstead, senior adviser for health care at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who has identified a link between suicides in middle age and rising rates of distress about jobs and personal finances.

Researchers also found an alarming increase among girls 10 to 14, whose suicide rate, while still very low, had tripled. The number of girls who killed themselves rose to 150 in 2014 from 50 in 1999. "This one certainly jumped out," said Sally Curtin, a statistician at the center and an author of the report.

American Indians had the sharpest rise of all racial and ethnic groups, with rates rising by 89 percent for women and 38 percent for men. White middle-aged women had an increase of 80 percent.  American Indians had the sharpest rise of all racial and ethnic groups, with rates rising by 89 percent for women and 38 percent for men. White middle-aged women had an increase of 80 percent.

The rate declined for just one racial group: black men. And it declined for only one age group: men and women over 75.

The data analysis provided fresh evidence of suffering among white Americans. Recent research has highlighted the plight of less educated whites, showing surges in deaths from drug overdoses, suicides, liver disease and alcohol poisoning, particularly among those with a high school education or less. The new report did not break down suicide rates by education, but researchers who reviewed the analysis said the patterns in age and race were consistent with that recent research and painted a picture of desperation for many in American society.

 Boy - 'Driven to Suicide by Bullies'   

             By JAMES TOZER, Daily Mailbully sign

A distraught mother has claimed that her 11-year-old son was driven to suicide by bullies at his school.  Thomas Thompson took an overdose of painkillers after other pupils picked on him because he was clever and well-spoken, she said.  Sandra Thompson found her son in his bedroom when she returned home from work in the evening.  Her partner, Geoff Clarke, tried to resuscitate the youngster while paramedics were called, but he had suffered a fatal heart attack.  Thomas is believed to be the youngest child to take his own life because of alleged bullying.

Coming so soon after similar cases, his death will add fuel to the debate over what to do about the bullying problem.  Miss Thompson, a shop assistant, said her son's ordeal began at Riverside Primary School near their home in Wallasey, England.

It was thought the situation might have eased last September when he started his secondary education at Wallasey School in nearby Moreton, but the bullying continued. His 33-year-old mother, who also has an eight-year-old daughter, Alexandra, said: "He told me how they got at him every day - trying to strangle him with his tie, poking him.

"It was like torture. They'd call him names like 'gay boy' and 'fatso'. He didn't really fit in with other boys his age. He was extremely clever and loved reading and doing his schoolwork. So they teased and tormented him relentlessly - just because he was a bit different. These bullies killed my son."

Thomas frequently missed classes.  On the day of his death, he had got off the school bus to escape the bullies. Miss Thompson said she had spoken to Thomas's teachers, but the school claimed the only reported incident had been at a bus stop and involved children from another school.   

Wallasey School headmaster Martin Pope said: "There is absolutely no record of the child reporting bullying within the school. We saw no evidence of Thomas being treated differently by other pupils."  Describing him as an "extremely intelligent boy", he added: "The whole school has been deeply shocked and saddened by Thomas's death." Wirral Council said the school's commitment to eradicating bullying is widely admired and this made Thomas's death particularly sad.

But Dr Michele Elliott, director of child protection group Kidscape, said: "Thomas's death is a terrible waste of a life. At 11 years old, he should have been living a carefree life and looking forward to the summer holidays. "The bullies apparently responsible for his death, and anyone who stood by and watched it happen passively, should be punished."

Last month 16-year-old Karl Peart took an overdose of painkillers after suffering what his family called a lifetime of bullying.

Two weeks later, Gemma Dimmick, a 15-year-old at the same school - Hirst High, in Ashington, Northumberland - also committed suicide. Relatives claimed she too had been bullied. Also last month, nine-year-old Jessica O'Connell's parents revealed the diary she kept of her suffering at St Wilfred Roman Catholic School in Ripon, North Yorkshire, as she was driven to the brink of suicide by bullies.






. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


1st and 3rd  MONDAY
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"Know That You Are Not Alone
                               — Sharing Can Be Healing"

Sharing and Healing is © by SOSL-NM
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April 2016


Coming : "Survivors Of Suicide Loss" meetings in Albuquerque

3rd Monday July  18th  

1st Monday August  1st    and    3rd Monday August  15th


  ♦   At : Shepherd of the Vally Presbyterian Church, 1801 Montano Rd NW, Albuquerque  ♦ 

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



> Albuquerque : 2nd & 4th Saturdays, 1:00 - 2:30 : Desiree @ 505-344-4343 <

> Santa Fe : 1st & 3rd Thursdays,  5:10 - 6:30 : Janet @ 505-690-1698 <

> Las Cruces : Margaret for Information @ 575- 521-5579 <



                                                               " SHARING AND HEALING "

April  2016

A Newsletter for Survivors of Suicide Loss

Written & Edited by  :  Al & Linda Vigil 


         Pg 1 : Grieving Notes - Al V.        Pg 2 : Emptiness Inside Your Heart       Pg 2 : Adult Grief  

         Pg 3 : Isaiah 60:20 & April' Suicide        Pg 4 : Eight-year-old Suicide   

         Pg 5 : Understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss      Pg 7 :  A Friend Is Someone Who Understamds

         Pg 8 : Explaining Suicide To A Child      Pg 10 : Coroner - Part of Prevention   

         Pg 12 : About SOSL and Meetings




Al Vigil

 A new phrase  ‘complicated grief’  is rapidly finding itself very popular in reference literature relating to a suicide death.

Before the suicide of our 18 year old daughter, Mia, we had of course lost others that we love ...grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends. Like all people, we experienced a normal grief and bereavement period of sorrow and numbness.  Losing someone we love to death, is one of the most distressing and,  unfortunately, common experiences people face.  

Complicated grief is added with the guilt and anger, abandonment and blame, that is easily associated with a self-chosen  death.  These feelings are the most difficult to ease, and it can interrupt the acceptance  loss, and thus move forward.  People follow different paths through the grieving experience.  The order and timing of these phases varies from person to person.  With a suicide, the feelings of loss can be debilitating and sometimes don't improve even after time passes.

Complicated grief can be clearly defined as a complex bereavement period.  In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble accepting the loss and resuming your own life. We have added guilt. We have difficulty accepting the reality of  loss to suicide. Sometimes we ahve a long  length of time adjusting to a new reality in which the deceased is no longer present. We have a hard time talking about the suicide loss with those who have not experienced such a loss.

Discussing your suicide loss, with other survivors like you, can help you come to terms with your loss and reclaim a sense of acceptance and peace.  There is incredible healing in allowing yourself to experience the pain of your loss with others. 

Survivors of Suicide Loss groups are dedicated to providing information and support to assist in the grieving and healing process. It is a support group of people who help one another through the stages of complicated grief related to suicide. 

                                                                                             — In Sharing and Healing : Al V.



                    I think the hardest part of losing someone, Tree

                         isn’t having to say goodbye,

                            but rather learning to live without them.     

                   Always trying to fill the void, the emptiness

                           ...that’s left inside your heart when they go.

                                                                    —  Contributed by Melinda White


            Adult Grief - By David Kessler

     When a parent of an adult dies, some view it as a rite to passage. Some feel you should take that death in stride, handle loss in an adult manner.

      What does that mean? Not be sad? Be grateful Dad didn’t die when you were a child? That would be underestimating grief. Loss does not diminish because you are an adult or because your mother or father lived a long life.

Holding hands     Here’s what most people don’t understand: Whether our partents live near or far are emotionally close or distant, they anchor us in the world. Even though we know they will die someday, most of us can’t fathom a world without them. Can you imagine a world without a sky? Of course not. It has always been there.

     Often we lose a parent after a long illness, but sometimes the death is sudden. For some the call comes on an otherwise idle Thursday. Out of the blue, our world tuns upside down without warning. How can this be? Mom was fine, and now she is not. Dad was here, and now he is not.

      Sudden loss compunds the loss. That’s because there is no preparation, no goodbye, just the loudest absence one could ever imagine. As a result, in sudden death, the denial will be longer and deeper. The more sudden the death, the longer it may take to grieve the loss. Give yourself that time.

     Our society places enormous pressure on us to get over loss. But how long do you grieve for your mother of 40 or more years? The answer is simple: You grieve for as long as you need to.


  Isaiah 60:20  and  April’s  Suicide    :  A Personal Expression

                                                                                                         submitted to Sharing and Healing Newsletter by Don Neidigk

   Isaiah           "Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself;

for the Lord will be your everlasting light,

understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss

                                and your days of mourning shall be ended."    — Isaiah 60:20


It was nearly three months after my daughter-in-law took her life before

I found myself  feeling somewhat normal again. I attended a variety show at a local

high school and laughed, something I hadn’t done for a while.  I was having a lot of fun with my grandchildren. Then some random events triggered intense emotions.  Sirens in the middle of the night woke me up giving me flashbacks of the sounds

I heard on the tragic morning April died.

 A day or two after that my three year old granddaughter Ely started asking if Mommy lived at her old house or if she lived in the church on the hill where people worshipped Jesus.  Next, my daughter-in-law’s sister Heather brought picture albums by for me to keep for Ely so she could remember her Mommy.  So I started crying all over again.  To myself I said, "I thought I was over this. Will the sorrow ever end?"

 Yes, says Isaiah prophetically.  I had grieved my loss for only a few months. But Israel, of which Isaiah literally speaks, would grieve its loss of nationhood, its freedom and the deaths of countless loved ones for more than half a century before the Persian king Cyrus would allow the survivors to return to their land and rebuild their homes.  Eventually though, Israel’s darkness would indeed turn to light and the people’s joy would return, just as God promised through Isaiah.

 I see Isaiah’s promises of an end to mourning and the return of light as a hopeful metaphor for survivors of suicide loss.  God has not forgotten or abandoned us though it may seem that way.  His love and presence remain with us.  The coming of Jesus who carried our sins and sorrows to the cross and who rose again on Easter morning offering new life to all is God’s promise that we are remembered and that beautiful days of light and joy will most certainly return.

 It was decades before the joy returned to Israel. 

It may be a long time for us as well, but the light and joy will return.  God says so. 


"Lord, hold me close to your heart even in those dark moments when I  wonder if You care. 

Deliver me from despair and help me await the sunshine of your love and the return of joy. 

In the name of your Son Jesus, amen."     ,,,,Don Neidigk


 EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SUICIDE in Las Vegas, Nevada

                         : Edited from several news reports

The death of a Las Vegas valley 8-year-old boy has been ruled a suicide. The Clark County Coroner's office says it's the youngest suicide in recent years. What is so shocking about the Singleton case is his age.  According to the coroner, Clayton Singleton's death was intentional. The boy shot himself in the head on Oct. 10 at his family's southwest valley home. Metro Police say Singleton was home alone with his 6-year-old sister when he shot himself. The parents were not at home.

He was one of the 350 people who have committed suicide this year in Clark County.

Seven of those were under the age of 18.

Neighbors who lived just doors away from the boy's family are in disbelief over the coroner's finding.Stop Youth Suicide

"It makes no sense to any of us because we saw him playing out with the other kids. He was always happy and always had a smile," said neighbor Julie Davis.  "While my heart goes out to them, I would also like to ask them what were you thinking." Davis said. "That makes no sense in my head. They were way too young."

Earlier this week the Coroner's Office ruled the death a suicide. What factors lead to that ruling remain confidential in what is still an ongoing police investigation. There are also questions about how the boy got hold of a gun. Police said the gun belonged to a family member. Authorities released a statement saying the death was ruled a suicide after a comprehensive investigation which included statements and physical evidence.

 The Center for Disease Control says several factors increase the risk for youth suicide. Those include: history of previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, a history of depression or other mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse, stressful life event or loss, easy access to lethal methods and exposure to the suicidal behavior of others. While Clayton's age has drawn attention to his death, suicide prevention professionals say that while not common, suicides among the very young are not unknown.

 Dr. Nadine Kaslow, former president of the American Psychological Association and current professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said understanding pre-adolescent suicides is difficult because there is so little data due to how rarely they happen."Anybody can have thoughts of suicide," said Richard Egan, a suicide prevention trainer with Nevada's Department of Health and Human Services. "Anybody can be at risk."  Unfortunately, Kaslow said, most children who try to kill themselves don't understand the permanence of their choice.  "They have a difficult time appreciating the finality of death in a way that adults typically would."

 Egan and Kaslow both say the warning signs for youth are essentially the same as they are for adults, and say to look for things such as changes in attitude, isolation and a loss of interest in things that they used to enjoy. 

 "What could be going on in their life that could bring them to think that suicide is an option?" Egan said.  "It's still some of the same things that we look at for adults. But the different age groups may perceive it differently."

 If your child is displaying any of the warning signs, or if you think your child might be having suicidal thoughts,

 be willing to talk to them about it, Egan added.  "Ask them openly and directly if that's what they are thinking. If that is what they're thinking, then connect them to resources. If that's not what they're thinking, help them with their life crises."


 Understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss  - Suicide is A Death Like No Other

                                                                                                    :  By Deborah Serani,  Psy.D.

 Grief is a universal experience all human beings encounter. Though death inevitably touches our lives, research shows that many people grieve in varying and different ways. From the textures of emotions, to length of time in mourning, to even the kinds of rituals and remembrances that help heal the irreplaceable loss. Grieving the death of a loved one is never, ever easy.

 Suicide, however, has been described as a death like no other ... and it truly is. Death by suicide stuns with soul-crushing surprise, leaving family and friends not only grieving the unexpected death, but confused and lost by this haunting loss.

 Who is a Survivor of Suicide Loss?

Despite science supporting a neurobiological basis for mental illness, suicide is still shrouded by stigma. Much of the general public believes that death by suicide is shameful and sinful. Others consider it a "choice that was made" and blame family Support circlemembers for its outcome. And then there are people who are unsure how to reach out and support those who have lost a loved one to suicide, and simply avoid the situation out of ignorance. Whatever the reason, it is important to note that the underlying structure of grief for survivors of suicide loss is intricately complicated.

When someone dies by suicide, research shows that at least 6 people are intimately traumatized by the death. Those who are directly affected include immediate family members, relatives, neighbors, friends, fellow students and/or co-workers. And because 90% of people who die by suicide have a psychological disorder, mental health clinicians are also included as a survivor of suicide loss. From the nearly 800,000 suicides reported from 1986 through 2010 and using the 6 survivors per suicide estimate, it is believed that the number of survivors of suicide loss in the U.S. reaches 5 million people.


 Understanding Suicide

Based on the accounts of those who have attempted suicide and lived to tell about it, we know that the primary goal of a suicide is not to end life, but to end pain. People in the grips of a suicidal depression are battling an emotional agony where living becomes objectionable. Most people who die by suicide have a significant depression narrowing their problem solving skills. Corrosive thinking reduces optimism, the hope of possibility and increases feelings of helplessness. The depressive illness itself makes it virtually impossible to hold onto any semblance of pain going away. While some may argue that a person who dies by suicide has done so by their own choice, I argue that serious mental illness, in fact, limits choice. Studies of those who have survived their suicide attempt and healed from their depression report being astonished that they ever considered suicide.

 Why Grieving is Different

Research has long known that suicide survivors move through very distinctive bereavement issues. Family and friends are prone to feeling significant bewilderment about the suicide. Why did this happen? How did I not see this coming? Overwhelming guilt about what they should have done more of or less of —become daily, haunting thoughts. Survivors of suicide loss often feel self-blame as if somehow they were responsible for their loved one’s suicide. Many also experience anger and rage against their loved one for abandoning or rejecting them —or disappointment that somehow they were not powerful enough, loved enough or special enough to prevent the suicide.

These mistaken assumptions plague survivors of suicide loss for a very long time. Many struggle for years trying to make sense of their loved one’s death —and even longer making peace —if at all —with the unanswerable questions that linger.Questions

As such, survivors of suicide loss may encounter blame, judgment or social exclusion - while mourners of loved ones who have died from terminal illness, accident, old age or other kinds of deaths usually receive sympathy and compassion. It’s strange how we would never blame a family member for a loved one’s cancer or Alzheimer’s, but society continues to cast a shadow on a loved one’s suicide.

 What also makes grieving different is that when we lose a loved one to illness, old age or an accident, we retain happy memories. We can think back on our loved one and replay fond memories, share stories with joyful nostalgia. This is not so for the suicide survivor. They questions the memories,  "Where they really good?"  "Maybe he wasn’t really happy in this picture?"  "Why didn’t I see her emotional pain when we were on vacation?"  Sometimes it becomes agonizing to connect to a memory or to share stories from the past —so survivors often divorce themselves from their loved one’s legacy.

Survivors of suicide loss not only experience these aspects of complicated grief, they are also prone to developing symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder—a direct result from their loved one’s suicide. The unspeakable sadness about the suicide becomes a circle of never ending bewilderment, pain, flashbacks and a need to numb the anguish.

           Ways to Help a Survivor of Suicide Loss  

If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, there are many things you can do. In addition, by reaching out, you also help take stigma out of the equation. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the death.

Grief SupportExtend your condolences, express your feelings of sorrow. Make sure you use the loved one’s name. "My heart is so sad that John died." Many who have lost someone to suicide have a broken heart, clinically called Stress Cardiomyopathy, and really need your empathy, compassion and understanding to heal.

Ask the Survivor  if and how you can help. Though they may not be ready to accept help, asking signifies that you are there—not avoiding or distancing during this tragic event. The notion of being there if needed is extremely comforting for survivors.

 Encourage openness

 Be accepting of however survivors need to express their feelings. It may be with silence, with sadness or even anger.

 Be patient. Don’t set a time limit for a survivor’s grief. Complicated grief can take years to process. Moreover, don’t limit a survivor’s need to share and repeat stories, conversations or wishes. Repetition is a key factor in grief recovery.

Listen.  Be a compassionate listener. This means don’t look to fix things. The greatest gift you can give someone you care about who has survived a suicide loss is your time, reassurance and love.

           Ways to Help Yourself if You’re a Survivor of Suicide Loss

Ground yourself  : It may be very painful, but you must learn to hold tightly to the truth that you are not responsible for your loved one’s suicide in any way, shape, or form.

 Don’t put a limit of your grief.

Grieve in your own way, on your own time frame. It will take time to find a place for your sadness and loss. It may take even more time for you to feel hope again and envision possibilities.

Plan ahead.

When you feel ready, assist your family in finding ways to mark your loved one's birthday, family holidays or other milestones. Understand that new moments, experiences or events will be met with sadness, even with emotional setbacks. Preparing for how you will move through these calendar dates will help minimize traumatic reactions.

Make connections

. Consider joining a support group specifically designed for survivors of suicide loss. The environment can provide a mutually supportive, reassuring healing environment unlike anywhere else.

Give yourself permission.

To cry. To laugh. To seek professional help if you need it. Remember that you are moving through the most difficult of losses—and you can take control of the path to healing.

 A friend is someone who understands your past,

believes in your future and accepts you today the way your are...

Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think,Reach out

not wonder, not obsess.

Just breathe and have faith that everything will work

out for the best.

                                                          Contributed by Melinda White


 Explaining Suicide To Children Shattered Hearts

Suicide is frequently a sudden, surprising and shocking death that leaves family members reeling in disbelief and heartache. Suicide is akin to lobbing an explosive into the middle of the family. There is enormous collateral damage.

For children, the death of a parent is a traumatic event, which is especially intensified for young children. However, when the death is a suicide, the trauma is heightened even more.

Suicide is the hardest death to accept. There are so many unanswered questions.

Young children do not readily understand the concept of suicide. They might ask,  "What is suicide?"  Once the child Grief in childrenhas some grasp on the meaning of suicide, there will be the inevitable "why?" question that wracks every survivor, young and old, of a suicidal loss.

Suicide opens Pandora's Box. Children want to understand why their parent made that choice and why their parent did not choose to stay with them.  Did I do something to make this happen?  Is it my fault?  Didn't Daddy love me enough to want to stay?  If I had loved her more, would Mom have stayed?

 It's crucial for children to be given an age-appropriate answer.  The younger the child means the simpler the response with fewer details, understanding of their parent's death so that they can begin to make sense of this terrifying loss and, over time, integrate this seminal event into their psyche. When we are in serious pain, we will do anything to minimize or eradicate the pain. Suicide is a choice, made at that moment in time, to end the agony of a life. That agony clearly has nothing to do with the child, but the pain of the parent's life. Suicide is often prompted by haywire neurochemicals, mental illness, profound physical pain, substance abuse and/or trauma. In other words, the parent was under extreme duress, which influenced their thinking and their actions.

 Suicide is a mental health issue. With children, it can be helpful to use the idea of sickness because children readily understand this.  Because suicide is both traumatic and considered complicated grief, there is the possibility that the child could become emotionally frozen. As a result, their development stalls and they can have increased difficulties socially and at school, which can set the stage for long-term repercussions.

 At the funeral, the priest said my Daddy died because he was sick.  My Daddy didn't have cancer. The priest said what my Daddy had was a mental illness.  He said my Daddy tried very hard not to be sick, but it got the better of him.  I liked that the priest said that.  I didn't have to explain it to anybody.

 Because suicide is both traumatic and considered complicated grief, there is the possibility that the child could become emotionally frozen, i.e., their emotions are frozen at the time of trauma like a solid block of ice with no movement and no flow. As a result, their development stalls and they can have increased difficulties socially and at school, which can set the stage for long-term repercussions.

 To heal from the trauma, loss, and grief, the primary focus is to encourage the child to express their feelings. This Girl cryingcan be done through physical activity, arts and writing projects, all things creative and, with older children, involvement in acts of service, like a walk to raise money for mental health resources.

 Children of suicide are often very angry How could you do this to me?  Why did you leave me? Because of you, my life is all messed up, why aren't you here?

 They have greater fears and anxiety  How can I remember my Mom better?  How can I make sure I never forget my Dad?  Will I be left alone?

 Children of suicide show more depressive symptoms  Why am I so sad?  Will I be this sad forever?  When will it stop hurting?  You tell me they are in a better place, I want be with them.  If I kill myself too, will I see my Mommy again?

 They have a pronounced fear of death :  You always said I am just like my Daddy, am I going to die this way?  Are you going to die too?

 There can be denial Marissa didn't want to believe it.  It couldn't be true.  Not her dad.  She told everyone her dad died of a heart attack, but, it was actually a suicide.

 Why is everybody acting so weird?  How come nobody wants to talk about my Dad's death?  What do I tell the kids at school?  Why do people look at me funny at school?  Or whisper about me and my family?  Will some of my friends even avoid me now? Why do I feel all ashamed and embarrassed, I didn't do anything wrong, did I?

 It is not easy to lose a parent under any   circumstances, but to lose a parent to suicide is incredibly difficult. Suicide by a parent leaves a very frightened and terrified child who is struggling mightily for emotional survival. Gently encourage your children to express all of their feelings   —the good, the bad and, especially the ugly. Reassure your bereft little ones that they are not alone. Yes, this is tough. Yes, we are all sad. Yes, it's OK to laugh at a silly movie tonight and cry tomorrow. There is no perfect way, but by being open, honest and vulnerable with your children, you will navigate this slippery slope.

 Above all, show the children that although we cannot control what happens, we can learn how to manage our reactions. It takes time and patience and tenderness to pick up all the pieces of a child’s shattered heart.



CORONER :  Data and Dialogue are  Part of Suicide Prevention Strategy


coronerBefore she became McLean County, Illinois, coroner last year, Kathy Davis was aware people died too often from suicide, but now it's her goal to try stopping it.

As a nurse practitioner,  Davis saw the devastation families endure when a loved one takes his or her own life.

Her work in the emergency room of Advocate BroMenn Regional Medical Center, combined with research she shared with students as a nursing instructor, is the foundation for Davis’ initiative to lower the number of suicides in McLean County.

"Our goal is to save lives. We want to strengthen the idea that prevention is possible," said Davis.

 Working as part of a team, the coroner can play an important role in addressing the 15 suicides reported so far in 2015 in the county, said Davis. The effort starts with data collection and engaging local health care providers in a discussion about those numbers.

 "We want to see how we can translate the data into a dialogue and a prevention effort," said Davis, who has talked with the Community Crisis Planning Group about the development of a prevention plan.

 The group of mental health and health care providers began meeting last year as part of the effort to improve community mental health services, including a better response to people in crisis.

 "Suicide prevention is at the core of what we do," said Laura Beavers, coordinator of behavioral health service for the McLean County Health Department and a member of the planning group.

 "The coroner's perspective and educational background has been very helpful," said Beavers.

 The expansion of that dialogue beyond professionals is a key element of a prevention plan, said Davis. The long-held belief that suicide is a topic too sensitive to share with others must change.

 "We want people to get involved and talk to others about suicide, ask what they can do," she said.  Data compiled by her office is a starting point, but work done at the state level also should be part of the local initiative.

 Recently, Davis joined the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance, a group of stakeholders from the public and private sectors working to develop the Illinois Suicide Strategic. A partnership that includes law enforcement, schools and health care providers is necessary to build an effective prevention program, said Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, organizer of the state alliance.

 "Suicide is a complex issue with multiple, interrelated causes rooted in both the individual and the environment," said Arnold.

 "While much is known about suicide, there is still much more to learn,"  added Davis.

 "One thing we know about suicide is that it can happen to anyone. The issue crosses all socio-economic lines. As a community, I believe we can pull all our resources together and get some answers that will help prevent more deaths," she said.



We walk through the valley of the shadow of death   —yes. Vally of Death

But we must remember that where there is shadow,

there too, has to be light.










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