Suicide survivors find tools for coping with loss of loved ones
December 12, 2008
By Bob Reinert
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Family and friends who have lost loved ones to suicide went to Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma and more than 170 other sites across the country Nov. 22 to find tools for coping with those losses.
The occasion was the 10th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day, an event presented by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Among those in attendance at PLU was Gary Ouellette, I Corps and Fort Lewis suicide prevention coordinator.
"The numbers are usually small at these events," said Ouellette, "but the level of emotions are not. All have come to be together as they remember their loved one, who has died of suicide, trying to figure out what happened."
According to Ouellette, the PLU event sponsored by AFSP was hosted by the Auburn Survivors of Suicide Support Group. He called the event "a very important healing tool to help in the process of a devastating tragedy that strikes the deepest emotional pain that can ever be felt in a human being. Losing a loved one to suicide is a painfully unique and very difficult, significant emotional event to recover from."
Ouellette said that members of the Auburn, Tacoma and Olympia survivor groups joined together at PLU to offer help to those new to grieving.
"The support groups extend emotional, physical and spiritual support and understanding in a time when there is no amount of words that will make the pain go away," Ouellette added.
Prior to the event, Ouellette had pointed out that more than 800 people in Washington state die by suicide each year. A number of Soldiers are among them.
To view the 90-minute national broadcast that was presented at the 2008 Survivors of Suicide Day event, go to www.limelightdc.com/clientarea/afsp_telecon_11_08/afspreg08.htm and register.
To speak with a counselor from a local support group, contact one of the following: Gary (Fort Lewis), 966-4597; Joan (Auburn), 838-8947; Janis (Olympia), 360 866-2509; Kathy (Tacoma) 446-6500.
Bob Reinert is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.