HANCOCK COUNTY — A new survivor support group has launched in Hancock County for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.
Eryn Stout of New Palestine and Sally Yurchiak of Greenfield created the support group to help survivors like them cope with such a tragic loss.
Yurchiak lost her late husband, Paul Yurchiak, to suicide seven years ago.
Stout has lost two nephews, a brother-in-law and a great-grandfather she never met, and has attempted suicide herself.
Stout said this new support group is specifically for people who have lost loved ones who have taken their own lives.
“This is the kind of place where you can just let it all out,” she said.
“We want to help others in their grief process so that they can know that they’re not alone,” said Yurchiak.
The support group meets monthly at two different locations: The Landing in Greenfield and Bell Mortuary & Crematory in Fountaintown.
The facilitators hope the group can bring some peace and comfort to those reeling from such a unique type of loss.
While losing any loved one is painful, both women say there’s a certain type of grief known only by those who have lost someone to suicide.
“The multitude of grief that (survivors) go through is so complex. It’s not like any other type of grief,” said Yurchiak. “There’s lots of unanswered questions and self-blaming, wondering if it’s somehow your fault, and questioning why you didn’t see the signs.”
Stout can relate. “You deal with all the stages of grief, the anger, the shame, and the could have would have should haves,” she said.
Because this grief is so unique, it can be overwhelming to manage alone, she said.
“Survivors don’t feel like they can talk to anybody about it because of the stigma and shame that’s still attached to it. Just like with cancer, when people used to call it ‘the C word,’ it’s the same with suicide. It’s not completely out there to a point where people feel comfortable talking about it or bringing it up,” said Stout.
Those who have lost someone to suicide often feel like no one else can possibly relate to what they’re going through, until they find someone who does, she said. Connecting those people is what the new support group is all about.
“When you get two or more survivors together, they can talk with somebody else and share how they’ve been feeling,” said Stout. They can find validation and know that they’re not alone, that other people are feeling the same thing.”
Stout said it’s her job as facilitator to give people the space to open up and share whatever is on their hearts and minds.
“We’re there to keep the conversation going so they can express themselves and talk and just let out whatever they need to let out,” she said.
Caralee Griffith saw a need for such a support group through her work as a bereavement counselor at Bell Mortuary.
“I think it’s a really good resource for the community,” said Griffith, who offered Stout use of the Fountaintown funeral home for a meeting space.
“The need for this specific kind of support is out there, and not just in some of the families we serve. Having this resource for people, facilitated by people who understand where they are coming from, is a really great thing,” she said.
Stout and Yurchiak met while working together on a planning committee for the Out of the Darkness Community Walk, “a journey of remembrance, hope, and support” hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
In February, the two women attended an Indianapolis facilitator training session through the AFSP to become certified to lead their own support group.
“They (the trainers) were great. I don’t think we could have asked for better experience than what we had,” said Stout.
Rather than offering a drop-in style meeting, Stout said those who wish to join the new group are asked to answer a series of questions through a Google form or phone call before being provided with the date and time of the next meeting.
“We are specifically for suicide survivors who have lost someone to suicide, so we want to be sure not to mix that in with those coping with other kinds of grief,” she said.
A new suicide survivor support group is now available in Hancock County, facilitated by two friends who live in New Palestine and Greenfield.
The adult peer support group is designed to support those dealing with the distinct type of grief that comes with losing a loved one to suicide.
The group meet for two hours each month at two different locations: The Landing in Greenfield and Bell Mortuary & Crematorium in Fountaintown.
Those interested in attending a meeting must first answer a few questions by phone or on a Google form, which is posted on the nonprofit group’s Facebook page.
To learn more, visit the “Adult Peer Support Groups of E Central IN for Suicide Loss Survivors” page on Facebook or call 317-325-8124.