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Amanda – SBSG Facilitator

What inspired you to become a Suicide Bereavement Support Group facilitator for individuals who have lost loved ones to suicide?  Was there a specific event or personal experience that motivated you to offer this kind of support?

Losing a loved one is always difficult, but losing a loved one to suicide presents many unique challenges including shock, overwhelm, confusion, guilt, anger, regret, shame, stigma, and many conflicting emotions. The grieving process can be complicated and those who have lost loved ones to suicide may feel isolated. I am inspired to provide a safe space where the group facilitators are experienced with suicide loss and group members are free to open up about their feelings without fear of being judged or made to feel awkward. A space for people who have experienced a similar loss, where they can come together, is invaluable to providing hope, support and reducing the isolation that is often associated with losing a loved one to suicide. 

Can you share a pivotal moment or story from your journey that reaffirmed your commitment to helping those who are grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide?

An important step in being able to heal from anything is being seen, heard, and validated. You are not alone, others have gone through this, and others have recovered from this. I have recovered from disordered eating and body image issues simply because there was someone who could walk along side me, understand my experiences and offer a non-judgmental space to explore myself. It is such a simple but affirming thing to offer someone who is struggling. I personally know first hand the healing power that a support group can offer, the value of bringing people together in a group who have lost a loved one to suicide and giving them the experience of feeling seen, heard and validated, to offer them an environment that is safe, supportive and non-judgmental – this is the space where healing can occur. I have experienced that space and I wish to offer that to others.

How do you believe your own experiences and training as a Crisis Support volunteer and SBSG facilitator have impacted not only the individuals you support, but also your own perspective on mental health and suicide prevention? Are there any lessons or insights you’ve gained through your role?

My own personal experience with suicidal ideation has taught me that anyone can be overcome with thoughts of suicide and the best support that anyone can offer is a kind, non-judgmental, empathetic, listening ear. My work as a telephone crisis supporter has equiped me to effectively work along side all kinds of different people in all kinds of different situations that may be experiencing thoughts of suicide.

For anyone who is considering on joining the group , that has lost a loved one to suicide, what can they expect when they participate?  What will happen during the group session?  What message would you like to give someone reading this.

Coming together with others who share your experience of having lost someone to suicide can be the most important thing you do as you try to navigate your way through your grief after losing someone to suicide. You may feel nervous about your first meeting but remember you will be among people who understand and care. You don’t have to say anything until you are ready. Given the intensity of this experience, it can be helpful to speak with those who understands the complexity of the experience.

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