Franklin James Cook

Survivor of 3 Suicides Gets Training, Starts Support Group

In Grief on January 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm

ORIGINAL STORY — Reporter John Bulger tells the story, in the Dec. 20 edition of the Idaho State Journal, of a Fort Hall woman whose brother died of suicide in 1991 and who then lost two sons to suicide, in 1996 and in 2006, both when they were 31 years old.

[Margaret] Brown again bottomed out after the latest death, but unlike the time following [her first son’s] death, she sought help. She first found a support organization online. She began attending Creekside Home Health and Hospice’s grief group … The process was gradual. Brown attended the weekly group meeting for six or seven months before she felt secure enough to speak about her sons’ deaths …

“It takes a lot of courage to go to a grief group,” Brown said, but noted the payoff has been extraordinary. “They have helped me immensely.”

Brown went on to form a support group specifically for survivors of a loved one’s suicide, after attending the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Suicide Survivor Support Group Facilitator Training.

Brown attended the training seminar in San Diego this summer … When she told of her loss of three family members, a collective gasp arose from the crowd. Brown worried that she had violated some etiquette. She was assured she had not stepped over any line, that the reaction came from the enormity of her loss … Instructors at the seminar told her that her lack of a degree had no bearing on her ability to be a capable mentor for a bereavement group.

“‘You’ve lived it,’ they told me,” Brown said. “‘You don’t need a Ph.D.'”

As time has passed, Brown told the State Journal, she has seen her surviving son struggle with his grief by beginning to talk about it and her husband struggle with his grief in other ways.

One of the things Brown has learned is that she is not alone. The other is that survivors of suicide have many burdens to bear, and that it is OK to lay that great weight down.

“You have guilt. You have shame. You feel like you’ve let them down.”

Brown does not push her husband to talk about Chuck and Steve. One thing she has learned is that everyone reacts to grief in their own way.

“Everybody has their own journey,” she said. “I respect that.”

[The abridged URL for this post is .]

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  1. One of the least studied groups is on multiple suicides. We need to be united and have our issues addressed.
    Lydia (survivor/ mother, brother, sister)

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