Suicide support group forms in Moses Lake

May 9, 2013 

— Nancy Thorne of Moses Lake said the pain of her brother’s suicide never really went away, and she spent a long time trying to come to terms with his death.

After almost two decades, Thorne said she found comfort talking with others who had lost family or friends to suicide in a support group based in Wenatchee. Thorne is one of the people working to start a group for suicide survivors in Moses Lake.

The group’s first meeting is scheduled May 20. It will meet for six weeks, and registration is required.

Meetings are at 6 p.m. The location will be given to participants when they register. The group can accommodate about 10 people, said Karen Sheppard, executive director of Grief Place -- North Central Washington Loss Support, the sponsoring organization.

Meetings will include facilitators who have had family members or friends who committed suicide, she said. The facilitators are not licensed counselors, she said, but do have some training for the group.

Sheppard said suicide often leaves not only grief but also confusion and guilt in its wake. “There are a lot of what-ifs” for family and friends, she said.

“They (survivors) just don’t know where to begin,” Sheppard said. Often they have questions they can’t answer, and in those situations someone who has been there can help, she said. “They can relate,” Sheppard said.

“It helps in a way that nothing else has, or can,” Thorne said. Her brother Mark Timm, who was 28, committed suicide 19 yeas ago, while stationed in Idaho for Navy service. Thorne is one of the three facilitators.

It’s a tough subject, many people don’t know how to approach it and so they don’t say anything. “It’s like the off-limits topic,” Thorne said.

But Thorne said she found silence really didn’t work because the sense of the loss always stayed with her. “If you don’t deal with it, it’s there. You might bury it, but it’s there.”

“You have so much guilt. What if? Why didn’t I? And they haunt you until you deal with them,” said Janiel Edmondson of Moses Lake. Edmondson also is a facilitator, whose 28-year-old daughter, Nicole, committed suicide in Spokane about 14 months ago.

The ability to talk other survivors was a crucial part of the healing process, Edmondson said. “Amazing. It’s just amazing. It really helped. I probably wouldn’t have been here without it (the group),” she said.

All conversations in the group are private, Sheppard said. “It’s all confidential. What’s talked about in the group stays in the group.”

Sheppard said she learned from the Grant County coroner there were eight suicides in Grant County in 2011, 12 in 2012 and so far three in 2013.

In central Washington, Yakima County had 28 and Benton County had 26. Spokane County had 64.

Nationwide, there were 38,350 suicides committed in 2010, ranking it as the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control.

The organization is considering establishing a continuing support group after the six weeks is up, Sheppard said. They will offer additional six-week sessions, she said.

People who want to register for the class can call 509-989-8041 or by email at ksheppardgriefplace.org.

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