[Editor's note: "Links to Suicide Grief Stories ..." is a SPNAC series featuring stories of survivors of suicide loss -- about the effect their loved one's suicide has had on them and how they are coping with their grief. FJC]
In “Pedaling for Prevention” in the Charleton County [Georgia] Herald, we learn about David Alexander, whose 17-year-old daughter Angela died by suicide in 2007. He has “logged 6,457 miles on his bicycle” since May 7 of last year because, he says, “‘I wanted to do something to give her life meaning. I didn’t want another child to die the way she had.’”
During his journey, Alexander … has carried journals in which some of the countless people he has met … have expressed their innermost thoughts after hearing his story and others have praised him for his courage in the face of his own pain.
“David, I think you must be an angel,” reads one entry written by a mother of a young daughter.
In another, a 16-year-old girl in California writes that she had planned to kill herself the night she met Alexander. Instead, he gave her the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and waited with her until social workers arrived. (Charleton County Herald)
In “Suicide’s Aftermath: Families Turn to Support Groups,” reporter John Grant Emeigh writes about Charlotte Macdonald, whose son Scott ended his life more than 20 years ago when he was 22 years old. Afterward, Charlotte found healing in an informal support group where people who had lost a loved one to suicide could be together and help one another.
In 1984, a friend … introduced MacDonald to other women who lost family members to suicide … The relief she experienced at these meetings was like a giant weight lifted from her shoulders.
“It was a safe place to unload your feelings and thoughts,” she said.
MacDonald’s suicide support group met for seven years.
“By the time it was over, I had a sense of peace and that I had come to terms with my son’s suicide,” she said. (The Montana Standard)
In “Reducing the Suicide Stigma,” clinical social worker Suresh Unni writes about his brother Santosh “Dosh” Unni’s suicide in 1996 at the age of 20. Suresh is now a member of the board of directors of the Asian American Suicide Prevention Initiative.
Dosh did not leave a suicide note, so we were unaware of what he felt during those last moments of his life. I believe he thought he was causing us more pain by being alive than by taking his own life. Some questions will never be answered. The two weeks after his death were a blur. The only way our family could get through it was due to the support of family, friends, and the loving care of a Higher Power. I wrote in my journal and letters to Dosh as a way to cope. I saw a therapist and therapy became an invaluable tool for me to cope with this loss. (Conducive Magazine)
In “Breaking the Myth of Mental Illnesss,” reporter Harold Carmichael writes about Susan Hess, whose husband died of suicide years ago and whose daughter Leah’s mental illness “pushed the Windsor [Ontario, Canada] woman into advocacy.”
“Leah became invisible,” Susan told more than 100 Grade 12 students at Confederation Secondary School in Val Caron [recently]. “(But) mental health services gave my daughter back to me, literally saved my daughter’s life … We can create change. It is important to break the chain that binds. It is important to break the myth of mental illness.”
To illustrate her talk, Hess brought with her a Quilt of Honour, featuring the names of several young people who have committed suicide due to mental illness, or who are continuing to fight mental illness. (The Sudbury Star)
In “Suicide Warning Signs,” [Editor's Note: This story is no longer available online -- please see the Gazette's contact form for back issues] reporter Jona Ison writes about Laura Butt, who lost her nephew Bryant to suicide in 2006, when he was 17 years old. Butt, as a member of the Ross County Suicide Prevention Coalition in south-central Ohio, “visits area schools to provide suicide prevention education and awareness.”
She assured students [during a recent school presentation] that parents do care, but get so wrapped up in the everyday that they don’t always hear the little things that maybe friends do. For example, teens may be making comments such as “I wish I were dead” or “they wouldn’t care if I weren’t here.”
“If you don’t take anything from this class but this, you’re worthwhile,” Butt said. “Things do get better with time.” (The Chillicote Gazette)
In “Ewing Named Victim Assistance Coordinator,” [Editor's Note: This story is no longer available online -- please see another story about Karren Ewing] reporter Emily Ham writes about Karren Ewing, a survivor of her father’s suicide, who recently started work as the Adams County [Mississippi] Sheriff’s office’s first victim assistance coordinator.
“I’m someone who is passionate about what I’m doing,” Ewing said. “When I was 19 my brother was murdered. My dad was a suicide victim. Later in life, I was mugged and shot, and then my son was murdered. I can see how things were treated in those situations when we didn’t have an advocate to take things in hand at that time.”
“She has been a victim. She is very passionate about victims’ rights. It’s a natural fit from my standpoint,” [said Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield]. (The Natchez Democrat)
[The abridged URL for this post is bit.ly/permanentsolution .]