Franklin James Cook

Links to Suicide Grief Stories: August 7, 2009

In Grief, Grief Stories Series on August 7, 2009 at 3:14 pm

[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]


Jack Clarke, Peter Johnston and Matt Gardner, 22, began their walk from Sydney to Brisbane on July 4.

In “Trio Walk from Sydney to Brisbane To Tackle Depression,” reporter Daniel Hurst bids farewell to Peter Johnston and two of his friends as they embark on a 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) journey.

The 22-year-old video producer, whose mother killed herself after a 10-year battle with depression, joined his friends Matt Gardner and Jack Clarke at the Sydney Opera House early this morning [July 4] to set off on the 23-day trek.

Mr. Johnston grew up with his mum after his parents separated, but she felt isolated as a deaf woman and had attempted suicide several times … [He] said the group started planning the “Steps 4 Survival” walk three months ago as a way to tackle depression among young people.

“I had a few breakdowns this year, and to make myself feel better I decided I had to do something for myself and to help others,” he said. “I’m looking for healing and this is definitely going to do that” (Brisbane Times).

SPNAC readers may visit the three young men’s Facebook page. [I couldn’t find news about the completion of the walk, so hopefully someone will comment with an update. FJC]


Cheryl Softich views a photo of her son, Noah Pierce, during the “Always Lost: A Meditation on War” exhibit. (Cathleen Allison, Nevada Appeal)

In “A Personal War: Mother Hopes Soldier Son’s Poetry Keeps Others from Suicide,” reporter Teri Vance goes with the mother of an Iraq war veteran who died by suicide to a multimedia exhibit that features the young man’s poetry.

On Thursday, Softich wept as she read the poems hanging in the hallway of the Bristlecone Building. She kissed her fingertips and touched them to the glass of her son’s portrait.

“I promised Noah when he was alive that I would get his work published and out there,” she said. “In death, his words are reaching out and trying to help others not to do what he did” (Carson City Nevada Appeal).


At Camp Stepping Stones, a large heart-shaped puzzle is among the activities that await children.

In “Stepping Stones Brings Grieving Families Together,” reporter Max Bowen interviews Melanie Lausier, a survivor of her husband’s suicide, about grief services that have been helpful to her children, Kami, 8, and Darren, 10.

The family has been to different counselors and bereavement services and found that with Camp Stepping Stones … the loss has become easier to talk about.

“You don’t have to hide anything from anybody,” Melanie said. “It doesn’t make anybody feel uncomfortable, because you’re all in the same boat.”

[The] … summer program has helped families form relationships with others who can relate to what they have experienced, said Pediatric Palliative Care Coordinator Maureen Forbes. The process is especially helpful for the children, who can find it difficult to talk about such losses with their friends.

“Some of these feelings they have never experienced before,” said Forbes. “We try and make it a safe and comfortable place where they feel secure enough” (Billerica Minuteman).

SPNAC readers may view a photo gallery from the 2008 Camp Stepping Stones program.


Kim and Robert Cutts

In “The Trauma of Husband’s Suicide Lingers,” columnist Kristi O’Harran covers one woman’s acount of the aftermath of her husband’s suicide, particularly problems with how she was treated by the medical examiner’s office.

Her husband … left a lengthy suicide letter saying he loved his wife very much, had lost his faith in God and felt the “weight of the world” on his shoulders. Life doesn’t get any worse than that, but for Kim Cutts, it was not the bottom of the pit. She said she was treated callously by workers at the office of the county medical examiner and at the evidence room. Routine procedures were devastating, she said.

Cutts said she was given back a bloody gun, provided explicit paperwork she didn’t want to read and shown little courtesy when she retrieved her husband’s personal effects.

“I was widowed by my husband,” Cutts said, “And lost by the system.”

O’Harran interviewed a Snohomish County official, who said that employees “prepare the family for what they might see, which was done in this case” (Everett Daily Herald).


Within hours after her death in a murder-suicide, a candlelight vigil brought friends of 18-year-old Ashley DeWitte together near her home in Mesa, Ariz. (Ralph Freso, East Valley Tribune)

In “Friends Remember Victim in Murder-Suicide,” reporter Mike Sakal captures the scene at a candlelight vigil for “an 18-year-old Mesa[, Ariz.,] woman [who] was shot and killed in her front yard by an ex-boyfriend who then turned the gun on himself.”

Many of Ashley DeWitte’s friends shared memories near her home … late Wednesday [June 24]. The friends, led by DeWitte’s close friend Heather Harris, told stories about DeWitte, whom they described as “the girl with the bleached blond hair who could say something positive after everything.”

“Ashley was an awesome person,” Harris said. “Even knowing this girl the slightest bit lightened your world. I’ve got many memories of Ashley, and I’ll always carry them in my heart” (East Valley Tribune).

[“Links to Suicide Grief Stories …” includes articles about all “kinds” of survivors who are affected by suicide — including those left behind in a murder-suicide, both the survivors of the person who died by murder and the survivors of the person who died by suicide — because we share a common bond in our grief. FJC]

[The abridged URL for this post is .]

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  1. RIP Ashley and Eric, you are sorely missed by everyone

  2. I find it difficult to agree with the conventional understanding of suicide that all of it is linked to depression or mental illness. Some are, some aren’t. Until society keeps sweeping people’s issues under the carpet and failing to understand the nuances of their life and death, unnecessary lives will continue to be lost. Having said that, I do believe in prevention strategies.

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