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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

Help available for survivors

Monday, October 28, 2002

Program will assist those left behind after suicide

SIKESTON - Every year suicide takes the lives of an estimated 30,000 Americans or 83 per day.

It's a desperate act that leaves an unimaginable emptiness in the hearts of their family and friends.

"As a mother, nothing helps," remarked Debi Oliver, whose son, Daric took his own life almost 11 years ago.

"I don't believe time heals all wounds, but getting the knowledge base was important to me," she said, having spent months reading everything she could about suicide in an attempt to understand.

"The person does not see any alternative at that time, he or she just wants the pain to stop," she said, sharing a little of what she learned.

Now she's going to use that knowledge and her experience to help others by working with Bootheel Counseling Services in a new program designed to prevent survivors from having to go through the same torment and guilt she did.

A therapist at Bootheel Counseling Services, Oliver said she feels good about the Southeast Missouri Suicide Prevention Program which has been developed to provide support and education for understanding and preventing suicide.

The program, prompted by a need in the area and increased suicides in the past 18 months, is being made possible through a Department of Mental Health grant, which was obtained by the Foundation of the Dexter Community Regional Healthcare Facility.

She only wishes it had been in existence 11 years ago. The shock and confusion caused when someone dies of a suicide has a severity all its own, she said.

"Suicide is harder to deal with than a natural death because it is sudden, unexpected," explained Oliver. "There is the feeling of abandonment and rejection, and it is traumatic and violent. The grief that follows a suicide is one of the most traumatic experiences in life."

Through the new program, survivors of individuals who have committed suicide have the opportunity to attend a four-session group.

The idea is to provide an atmosphere or acceptance where families and friends can come together to share feelings, questions and struggles. Information about group members are kept confidential.

The sessions will be from 7-8:30 p.m. Nov. 4 and 18 and Dec. 2 and 16 at Bootheel Counseling Services, 760 Plantation Blvd. in Sikeston. For more information call 471-0800.

Additional sessions will be conducted from 7-8:30 p.m. Nov. 7 and 21 and Dec. 5 and 19 at the Bootheel Counseling Services' office in Dexter, at 25 North Walnut St. For more information call 624-5924.

"There are many phases of the grieving process," said Oliver, who is director of the SEMO Survivors of Suicide in the 13-county area, a registered nurse and has specialized training in the detection, intervention and prevention of suicide.

"People feel embarrassed because sometimes there is a stigma associated with suicide," Oliver pointed out. "But we would just encourage anyone who is going through the grieving process to attend the group or contact someone for one-on-one therapy."

Although there is no cost, interested individuals are asked to register in order to give organizers an idea of how many individuals to expect.

The Crisis Line number is 1-800-356-5395.