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Mental health support group helps those in need during the summer

Graphic courtesy of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Graphic courtesy of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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For those coping with a loss to suicide, a school environment with counselors and psychologists may be a comforting advantage. The Survivors of Suicide Loss Group will be able to provide support, even when school is not in session.

“School’s going to let out, and although that’s awesome that we don’t have school for the summer, there’s also a nice safety net built in with going to school everyday,” South counselor Beth Walsh-Sahutske said. “Sometimes having that time without the built-in safety net and support of the counselors here and the mental health team here can feel a little daunting.”

The Survivors of Suicide Loss Group is a peer-led group assembled by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), according to AFSP Michigan Area Director Steve Windom.

“These are groups where individuals who have been affected by suicide or have lost a loved one or someone close to them can come and find a sense of community and a sense of support,” Windom said. “The group is open to anyone, and everyone has the chance to talk and tell their story of their loved one that they lost and they are able to help remember good times, and really it’s just a place where you can get emotions off your chest.”

The group is free and open to anyone, according to Windom.

“If you don’t want to talk, then you don’t have to, you can just sit and listen and just be with others who have suffered what you’re going through as well,” Windom said

However, these groups are not to be supplemented as any sort of treatment, according to Windom. AFSP can provide a list of resources if a member of the group does need treatment.

“It’s a support network and a community and a place to find others who have been through what you’ve been through,” Windom said. “There is a way past this through treatment of their own and dealing with this and getting some therapy. These groups are just there to help others through the process and to give them a sense of community that they wouldn’t find elsewhere in any other type of group.”

The group will be led by a trained volunteer who is also a survivor of suicide loss, according to Walsh-Sahutske.

“The peer facilitator is usually a community member or peer of the community that has suffered a loss of their own and is a long-time loss survivor. They get trained in kind of facilitating the group,” Windom said.

The particular facilitator for the Grosse Pointe group lost her son when he was 12 to suicide, according to Walsh-Sahutske.

“This person that we have for our community met with staff, and she’s fantastic. She’s had extensive training and she’s worked very well with survivors and communities to help them work through that process,” said Walsh-Sahutske. “She’s not going to be giving advice. She doesn’t have anybody in the group giving advice, because that’s not the purpose of the group. The group is really to help process all of the emotions and the feelings that go with being a survivor of loss.”

Although the group has partnered with the Grosse Pointe Public Library, there are no set dates just yet, according to Walsh-Sahutske.

“Our first step is we’re connecting the kids and then we will connect with the facilitator and she will come up with times that we’ll communicate out what works for the people that are interested,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “There’s going to be a level of flexibility there to accommodate all of the different parties.”

According to Meryl Tyjenski ’19, there are a few handfuls of students who are for the group to happen.

“I think the summer grief group is a great idea,” Tyjenski said. “It’ll be there for kids who are still struggling over all the events that have happened this year, and it’s entirely free, professional help.”

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Mental health support group helps those in need during the summer