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August 2014



SURVIVORS OF SUICIDE LOSS - New Mexico,  (SOSL-NM),  is a non-profit support group that serves the needs of people suffering the loss of someone they love by suicide.  With two meetings, (in Albuquerque, on the  1st & 3rd Monday of every Month, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -  at Shepherd of the Vally Presbyterian Church, 1801 Montano Rd. NW ),  that are free and open to all survivors, SOSL also hosts presentations and discussions relevant to survivors of suicide loss throughout the Albuquerque and New Mexico area.

The 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 grief related to suicide. Self introductions by each person is requested so that all in attendance recognize that the common relationship with all others there, is having lost someone by suicide. Longer term survivors facilitate and help lead the meetings and present their own perspectives and experiences on the suicide death of the one they lost by suicide.

We share feelings of guilt, anger frustration, emptiness, loneliness and disillusionment. For some, it is hard to identify or even to understand their feelings. Through others’ expression of what they are feeling, we begin to have a better awareness of what is going on inside us.

The issues discussed at Survivors of Suicide Loss meetings are usually —grief, mourning, anger, loss, abandonment, guilt, blame, and paths toward recovery and acceptance. The purpose of all our meetings is to openly discuss these feelings and to share our experiences as we live and work with the grieving process.

The mutual sharing with those who have a related loss, offers perspectives and experiences that are valuable to survivors of suicide loss. These and other key issues trouble many of us. The risk in frankly sharing our unique problems and concerns about such topics is offset by the benefit of learning from those who have experienced a related suicide loss.

SOSL-NM  meetings are attended by both recent and long-time survivors, all of whom benefit from the sharing of experiences and approaches to the loss through suicide. In addition to the survivors, the meetings are also frequently attended by mental health professionals who offer their various perspectives on unexpected death, grief and bereavement, guilt, responsibility, and mourning. 

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August  2014


Written & Edited By  :  Al & Linda Vigil


Pg 1 :  Grieving Notes - Linda V.

Pg 2 : "Out of the Darkness" Walk

Pg 3 : Bipolar Disorder & Suicide

Pg 5 : Dear Abby

Pg 6 : People Kill Themselves Because

Pg 8 : NBC 24 Focus on Teen Suicide

Pg 9 : Golden Gate Bridge Barrier

Pg 10 : Who Is A Survivor ?

Pg 11 : Grief Poem

Pg 11 : About ABQ SOS

Pg 12 : WEB Site Addresses



By Linda Vigil

Suicide in families causes such division and pain. After our middle daughter Mia chose to take her life at the age of 18, Al and I  were so full of fear and devastation that our protective instinct immediately kicked in.  Our oldest daughter was living on her own and our youngest was living at home.

We learned the word FEAR and how much power it could have in our lives and how we worked so hard not to let it destroy us as individuals and as a family.  Not believing that our family, even after a suicide would face more devastation and forever be divided, not only as a family, but with so many close friends.

We had to learn to stop letting people who did little for us, control so much of our  minds,  feelings, and emotions!

We believe very strongly in mental health, and in seeking help to stay healthy. We were on a path that neither of us thought we would ever be on. We  worked very hard on our own relationship, and we learned how to leave our daughters go on with their own lives.  We never thought for one moment that one daughter would refuse help!

After the suicide, as a family, we received counseling and were involved with Survivors of Suicide. As our two girls got older, they felt getting help saddened them, and they chose different paths.  The division in the family had started!  Our oldest daughter started on a destructive path, feeling that she did not deserve help or happiness, it was so painful to watch, because the Fear button was in our faces once again! But, when she hit bottom she Chose Life, and has been on the path of recovery.  She has worked very hard and is still working!  She has taught Al and I so much. 

She introduced us to the recovery rooms of Al-Anon. Those rooms have given us tools. Tools that teach us we are powerless over another human being. Our daughter’s recovery was not our recovery, but hers alone.  The rooms have taught Al and I we do not have to take abuse physically or verbally!  The rooms of Al-Anon and Over-Comers have taught us that we can change our behavior.  We work every day on the tools that we still continue to receive in not Enabling or becoming Co-dependent.

Sadly, this was the beginning of letting our youngest daughter continue her own journey, this has been very painful for us, and once again Fearful, for she has expressed she can do this alone!  Faith, Help and Love has helped us face that we Love her enough to let her go. 

And we realize that  ...Hurt People —HURT PEOPLE! 

I have heard in so many self-help rooms, that the healthier you become, the more people you leave behind,  and I have found this to be so true. So I always pray to have eyes that see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, and a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in GOD.

As Al and I, and our oldest daughter continue to get help and pray for strength and courage, we now believe that FAMILY isn’t always blood. 

Family are the people in your life who want you in theirs.  They are the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.

So show up for your Life!                      

In Sharing and Healing,            

    - Linda V.            


Suicide claims more than 38,000 lives each year in the United States alone, with someone dying by suicide every 13.7 minutes. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in nearly one million attempts made annually.

When you walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walks, you join efforts with thousands of people nationwide to raise money for
AFSP's vital research and education programs to prevent suicide and save lives. The walks raise awareness about depression and suicide, and provide comfort and assistance to those who have lost someone to suicide.

SUICIDE CAN BE PREVENTED                                                          



Where :  Hoffmantown Church 8888 Harper Dr. NE,  Albuquerque, New Mexico

On Saturday September 7, 2014 at  9:00 am   -   Ends at 12:00 noon

Check-In Time   -  7:30 am to 9:00 am 

Registration Cutoff -  Sept. 26th at 2:00 pm

Donation Cutoff - January 1st, 2015

Contact  -  Bee Chavez  at  505 - 263-2085

Online registration closes at noon the Friday before the walk. However, anyone who would like to participate can register in person at the walk during the check-in times listed above. Walk donations are accepted until December 31st.

The Out of the Darkness Community Walks are the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's (AFSP) signature fund-raising campaign, bringing together family, friends, colleagues, and supporters at chosen  3 to 5 mile walks in hundreds of communities across the country. When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Community Walks, you join the effort  with thousands of people to raise funds and awareness for AFSP's vision to create a world without suicide.


         Bipolar Disorder and Suicide

People with bipolar disorder are at great risk for suicide if they are not getting treatment. The National Mental Health Association reports that 30%-70% of suicide victims have suffered from a form of depression. Men commit almost 75% of suicides, even though twice as many women attempt suicide.

About 1% of children in the U.S. have bipolar disorder -- extreme changes in mood. Medication helps, but it can't teach children coping skills. JudithBipolar Lederman's son tried to jump off a pier in his first suicide attempt. He was 5 years old. "A psychologist said he was just trying to get attention," Lederman recalls. "He was 8 years old when he had his first full-blown manic episode," says Lederman. "He had stopped sleeping for days on end, became very hostile."

The lows of bipolar depression can be all consuming

Bipolar mania is an extremely high mood. During a manic high, people feel unusually great. It's common to be overly talkative, have lots of energy, and need little sleep.

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania—but it is no less important to report to your health care professional. One of the ways you can be sure to get an accurate diagnosis is to talk to your health care professional about all the symptoms you are experiencing or have experienced in the past, including any manic or hypomanic episodes. A manic or hypomanic episode is what separates a diagnosis of depression, also called major depressive disorder, from bipolar disorder.  Bipolar mania can be disruptive. However, like bipolar depression, bipolar mania can be treated effectively.

When you're dealing with the symptoms of bipolar depression, it's easy to feel like you're consumed by the condition or simply fading into the background. That's because for some patients with bipolar disorder, the depressive symptoms, also called bipolar depression, can be more disabling than the manic symptoms.

According to DSM-5 a medical reference commonly used by health care professionals to aid in diagnosis, bipolar depression consists of many of the following symptoms, occurring for at least 2 weeks:

Depressed mood most of the day; feeling sad or empty, tearful

Significant loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable

Significant weight loss or weight gain; decrease or increase in appetite

Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

Agitation or slowing down of thoughts and reduction of physical movements

Fatigue or loss of energy

Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt

Poor concentration or having difficulty making decisions

Thinking about death or suicide

Risk Factors for Suicide Include:

Having mental and substance abuse disorders

Family history of mental or substance abuse disorders

Having attempted suicide previously

Having a family history of physical or sexual abuse

Having family members or friends who have attempted suicide

Keeping a firearm in the home

If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide -- and has shown warning signs -- do not leave them alone. Seek the help of a health care professional right away. People often talk about suicide before they attempt it, so pay close attention to what they are saying and take them seriously.

         Some warning signs of suicide include:

- Talking about suicide

- Always talking or thinking about death

- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless

- Saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"

- Worsening depression

- A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy

- Having a "death wish" & behavior that could lead to death, like driving through red lights

- Losing interest in things one used to care about

- Visiting or calling people one cares about

- Putting affairs in order, tying up lose ends, changing a will

        Call 911 If You:

Think you cannot stop from harming yourself

Hear voices

Want to commit suicide

You know someone who has mentioned wanting to commit suicide  

         DEAR ABBY

A friend I have known for about 10 years messaged me again tonight saying she was going to commitDearAbby

suicide. I tried to get her to go to a hospital, but she refused. When I told her I was going to contact the police, she backed down a bit. This has become an almost-nightly occurrence.

She’s going through a rough patch right now. She’s breaking things off with her drug-addicted longtime partner. She is also underemployed, in danger of being evicted and has cancer.

It is tough on me to talk her down from the ledge every night. Many of her problems are of her own making, but she can’t seem to see that. She cant afford therapy. I have taken her to Al-Anon, but she quit after a short time.

I don’t know what to do. I hate to break it off with her because I’m afraid she will kill herself. I am the only friend she has left. How much longer do I hold on?  —Sucked Dry

            DEAR SUCKED DRY  :  Because your friend is calling nightly threatening to harm herself, it appears she is using you to vent. That’s all right if it’s consensual and you have the emotional strength to handle it. If you don’t, and because you describe yourself as emotionally depleted ("sucked dry"), I’m advising you to start screening your calls. I’m not advising you to shut her out completely, but to allow yourself not to answer your phone unless you are feeling up for it. And if she threatens suicide again, follow through on contacting the police.

              People Kill Themselves Because They Can’t Help It

(The Houston arts scene was rocked recently by the death of a promising young writer, one of three apparent suicides in the past week in the city's art scene, according to a Free Press Houston columnist.)

I have been studying and writing about suicide since the Reagan years; and, believe it or not, this simple statement, from a renowned, wizened suicidologist, comes about as close as I can get to a satisfying answer to the question "Why?" in the wake of a suicide. I know, it’s not very satisfying.


How are we to comprehend an act of self-annihilation by a member of our community, someone we may have known as a talented, good-hearted human being?

Explanations :  Science tells us a lot about the vulnerabilities that set the stage for suicide – mental illnesses such as depression and substance abuse, social forces such as unemployment and gun availability, neurobiological factors such as serotonin and sleep deprivation. Yet, when it happens to someone we know and care about, knowing "the facts" falls miserably short for some reason. When the media portrays a suicide as "out of the blue," bewildering and mysterious, you should know there’s much more to the story than has been told.

It’s also true that the media tell us a great deal about suicide – much of which is unhelpful if not downright wrong. When the media portrays a suicide as "out of the blue," bewildering and mysterious, you should know there’s much more to the story than has been told. Ironically, the same is true to the extent that the story presents a tidy and satisfying explanation: Once again, you can bet there’s more to the story.

It is simply unreasonable to presume to know the full story, much less convey it in 1,000 (or 10,000) words. Indeed, therapists who lose a patient to suicide, sometimes after years of therapeutic work, will tell you that even they don’t presume to understand why this patient, at this time, in this situation, followed through on his or her impulse to self-destruction.

Sometimes people attempt to explain things simply by labeling them. A favorite label for suicide is "selfish." Compassionate observers are quick to object to this label, but to do so is to miss an important point. Of course suicide is selfish. But what’s important to recognize is this: The fact that a good and loving person can do such a "selfish" thing –an unspeakably hurtful act to those who love them –speaks to the unbearable anguish and cognitive impairment that occurs when one is in "suicide mode."

 In this state, a blinding force as intense as the survival instinct is turned on its head in an urgent desperation to end life, as the only apparent pathway to relief. Imagine your beloved, loyal pet savagely biting you because you accidently pressed on its recent surgery site. The frontal lobes of the brain, where we imagine how others feel and anticipate the consequences of our actions, are rendered irrelevant, while the survival brain, where emotion and action tendencies reside, take over to attend to more urgent –life and death priorities.



Actually, there’s more hope than space available here to share. The last two decades have seen major advances in understanding contributors to suicide, together with the development of psychotherapeutic interventions specifically targeting vulnerabilities to suicide. But such discoveries are useless unless people seek help, and more than half of people who kill themselves do not get the help they need. But such discoveries are useless unless people seek help, and more than half of people who kill themselves do not get the help they need.

Getting the word out is not easy, but we’re doing better. Witness a recent movement by suicide attempt survivors, whose achievements to-date include getting the American Association of Suicidology to create a new division specifically for them. Their purpose is not to advocate for suicide – far from it. Rather, it is to provide a forum for telling their stories of survival and recovery to others who are still struggling to believe that a life worth living is attainable for them.

However many hopeful signs there may be in the field, there’s never been a public health problem solved exclusively by professionals; such problems are simply too widespread (nearly 40,000 suicides per year in the U.S. alone). Complicated problems can be ameliorated through amazingly simple measures: Fewer people die of heart disease, not only because of advances in surgical techniques, but also because fewer people are smoking. Fewer people die of AIDS, not only because of new drug therapies, but also because more people are practicing safe sex.

If you or someone you care about is at-risk, nothing can be more relevant than the simple advice to stay connected. Isolation and alienation from others make it, if not easy, then at least less difficult to take that final exit. Nothing is more tortuous than intense suffering combined with aloneness. We know from a mountain of research that social support enhances health and life, both quality and quantity. Feeling a sense of connection (read: caring) from only one other individual can make the suicide option, not only less imaginable, but even irrelevant.

How You Can Foster That Connection

Reach out, whether it is you who are struggling or you who notice someone else is in pain. "Are you OK?" is a caring question with potentially life-saving value. "Help is available" is the most important information to share. And, if reaching out doesn’t work, then call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK. They will give you the space to talk it over and even refer you to someone local to follow-up with. It’s free, and you’ll never make a better investment.

People do kill themselves because "they can’t help it;" but a helping hand can be all it takes to lift a suffering soul out helplessness, and open doors once thought hopelessly closed.



 Perrysburg High

 At Perrysburg High School in Ohio,  a community is mourning after a student took her own life. It’s a tragedy that’s left many asking: why?

Perrysburg High School hosted a vigil Thursday evening to allow students to say goodbye to their friend.

NBC 24 does not usually cover suicides. But because the problem is of such concern, we’ve decided to focus on preventing other teen suicides.

Dr. Kathy Andros is a Clinical Manager with Harbor, a local mental health provider. She says the first step in prevention is strong communication.  Andros urges parents to keep a close watch on their kid’s behavior. She said changes in sleeping and eating habits are warning signs, especially if the kid has experienced recent loss.

"Something that seems like a small setback to an adult may seem like an insurmountable challenge to a teen," Andros said.

Kids don’t always express themselves verbally, so Andros stresses that parents should also monitor social media. She says friends—not just parents—should speak up if a kid’s making alarming posts.

"If somebody mentions something like that, never minimalize it," she said. "Please take it seriously and talk to someone."

She says the vigil in Perrysburg, Ohio is a great idea, and all families should talk about depression and suicide whether it’s an apparent issue or not.



           Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Barrier Funding Approved 

The bridge district's board of directors voted unanimously in favor of the funding for a steel suicide net.

San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge moved a big step closer to getting an oft-debated suicide barrier after bridge officials on Friday approved a $76 million funding package for a net system that would prevent people from jumping to their deaths. 

Golden Gate

The bridge district's board of directors voted unanimously in favor of the funding for a steel suicide net. The funding sources are $20 million in bridge toll revenue, $49 million in federal money and $7 million from the state.

A tearful Dana Barks of Napa, who lost his son, Donovan, to suicide on the bridge in 2008, said after the vote that he was almost speechless. "A lot of people have done so much incredible work to get this accomplished," he said.  He rose from his knees and shared a tearful embrace with Sue Story of Rocklin, whose son Jacob jumped off the bridge in 2010.

"We did it!" Story said. "It's no longer the Bridge of Death anymore."

At least some of the money still requires additional approval. The bridge's board, however, has now taken its final step in adopting the net.

"The tragedy of today is that we can't go back in time, we can't save ... the people who jumped off the bridge. But the good thing, with this vote today, we can vote in their memory," board member Janet Reilly said. "We will save many lives who have followed in their footsteps - and that's what so extraordinary about today."

The Golden Gate Bridge, with its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, has long been a destination for people seeking to end their lives. Since it opened in 1937, more than 1,400 people have plunged to their deaths, including a record 46 suicides last year, officials said. Officials have been discussing a suicide barrier on the bridge for decades. The bridge's board voted in 2008 to install a stainless steel net, rejecting other options, including raising the 4-foot-high railings and leaving the iconic span unchanged. Two years later, they certified the final environmental impact report for the net, which would stretch about 20 feet wide on each side of the span. Officials say it will not mar the landmark bridge's appearance.

But funding for the project remained a major obstacle. A significant hurdle was overcome two years ago when President Barack Obama signed into law a bill making safety barriers and nets eligible for federal funds.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California in a statement Friday praised the bridge's board and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who has been a staunch supporter of a barrier.  "The Golden Gate Bridge is a source of immense pride to San Francisco, but for too many families in our community, it has also been a place of pain," Pelosi said. "A suicide prevention barrier offers a critical second chance for troubled men and women acting on often impulsive suicidal thoughts. Together, we can ensure this magnificent landmark stands as a faithful companion for all San Franciscans, awing and inspiring visitors for generations to come."

Most jumpers suffer a grisly death, with massive internal injuries, broken bones and skull fractures. Some die from internal bleeding. Others drown. Kevin Hines, who miraculously survived his suicide attempt after jumping off the structure in 2000 at age 19, urged the board before its vote to "not let one more family sit in eternal pain in perpetuity because of politics."

He later broke down after the unanimous vote approving the funding. "I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders, all of our shoulders. I feel free," Hines said. "I feel a sense of hope that I haven't had in a very long time. It's not over yet. We will be here until that net is raised and no more people die."

Bidding on the job is expected to start next year, with completion of construction expected in 2018.

The motion for Friday's vote came from board member and former bridge district director John Moylan, whose grandson, Sean Moylan, jumped off the bridge to his death earlier this month.



 Who Is A Suicide Survivor ?     

 A suicide survivor or survivor of suicide is one of the family and friends of someone who has died by suicide.  Suicide survivors are the people who have lost to death  —someone they love one to suicide

Those left behind after the suicide of a family member, friend, or colleague are referred to as "survivors" of suicide loss.

This definition identifies a survivor by the degree of impact on the person, not by their connection to the deceased.

That is, anyone who is significantly negatively impacted by a suicide can be considered a suicide survivor, both for purposes of support and clinical services and for purposes of research. This means that the neighbor, the friend, the subway driver who never even knew the deceased might all be potential survivors. On the other hand, the definition

Survivors of Suicide

does not presume that someone is automatically a survivor just because they were in a certain type of relationship with the deceased. This definition thus helps us recognize that not everyone, even people who are close to the deceased from a kinship perspective, will necessarily be wounded for a prolonged period of time after the death. And lastly, the definition requires that the individual themselves recognizes that they are having a difficult time. In this sense, a survivor is anyone who believes themselves to be deeply impacted, and thus a survivor.

Estimates are that for every suicide,  there are from seven to ten immediate family members intimately affected by that death.

Given the social stigma associated with suicide, suicide survivors are often unable to cope with their loss and grief using normal support systems, and are "forced into a privatized and individualistic mode of grieving," making the healing process even more difficult.

Suicide takes the lives of about 30,000 Americans each year. Each of these deaths reverberates through families, workplaces, schools and universities, religious organizations, and the other social networks in our lives. Surviving a suicide can be a struggle. But you are not alone in this struggle. Others have been through it and have created resources to help.



Grieving is not a short-term process,  it's not even a long-term process,

it's a lifelong process. 


Having a future now means that although your life will flow again, it will flow differently as a result of the loss.


Your grief will become incorporated into your life history, become a part of your identity. And you will continue now, and forever,

to redefine your relationship with your deceased loved one.


Death doesn't end the relationship, it simply

forges a new type of relationship

                                                  —one based not on physical presence, but on memory, spirit, and love.


by Ashley Davis Bush                  



 About Albuquerque’s Survivors of Suicide


Founded in 1978 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Survivors of Suicide, is a volunteer support group that serves the needs of people suffering the loss of someone they love by suicide.    With Four Meetings Every Month, that are free and open to all, SOS hosts presentations and discussions relevant to survivors of suicide throughout the Albuquerque area.



SOS meetings are attended by both recent and long-time survivors, all of whom benefit from the sharing of experiences and approaches to the loss through suicide. In addition to the survivors, the meetings are also frequently attended by mental health professionals who offer their various perspectives on unexpected death, grief and bereavement, guilt, responsibility, and mourning.

Survivors of Suicide Inc., is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, self-help support group system for those who have lost a relative or friend through suicide. The Survivors of Suicide volunteers 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 grieving. We share feelings of guilt, anger frustration, emptiness, loneliness and disillusionment. For some, it is hard to identify or even to understand their feelings.

Through others' expression of what they are feeling, we begin to have a better awareness of what is going on inside us.

"Know That You Are Not Alone - Sharing Can Be Healing"



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