The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a support group for those coping with the loss of a loved one to suicide.

The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a support group for those coping with the loss of a loved one to suicide.

Suicide loss prompts support

The Canadian Mental Health Association is currently taking registrations for its Healing After Suicide Loss support group.

The hurt and isolation is overwhelming but there is help for those impacted by suicide.

The Canadian Mental Health Association is currently taking registrations for its Healing After Suicide Loss support group.

“Any loss is difficult but when the loss is due to suicide, people don’t know what to say and you feel very alone,” said Betty Bates, community coach with CMHA’s Bounce Back program.

“There is a real need in the community for people who have lost a loved one.”

Grief varies among individuals but the more common symptoms include anger, sleeping too much or not enough, the inability to focus, depression, headaches and not being able to stop crying.

The support group, which began in 2013, has provided assistance to 15 individuals to date in a safe and non-judgemental environment.

“They can share and heal,” said Bates.

“They heal each other. It’s amazing to watch.”

Those who attend may have lost  a loved one several years ago or it may be a more recent loss.

“It is simply when that person feels the need or is ready or seeking this type of support,” said Bates.

The goal is to allow the family member or friend to move ahead.

“It’s not like there’s closure because there are always unanswered questions,” said Bates.

“You never understand why a person chose that path (suicide) but you begin to understand that the person was going through unbearable pain.”

The group meets once a week for eight weeks at no cost to participants and among the topics are the impact of loss, honouring the memory, guilt and anger, coping as a family and building a support network.

“The group dynamic is very embracing and reinforced in me – the realization that there is definitely a path to healing and well-being,” said one participant.

The next session runs from Oct. 6 to Nov. 24 but  Bates is hoping those touched by suicide will reach out now for help.

“It’s so important that we get the word out. We want people to know there is support,” she said.

Pre-registration is required by calling 250-275-8062 extension 4 or e-mailing betty.bates@cmha.bc.ca.

For 24/7 support, call the crisis line at 1-888-353-2273 or 1-800-784-2433.