LaGRANGE — Suicide is a public health issue that has long-lasting effects on those left behind, but sometimes talking to someone who understands can help.
On Monday the Survivors of Unexpected Loss — SOUL — Group is scheduled to hold its first meeting at the LaGrange First United Methodist Church. The group’s purpose is to let those left behind after suicides know that they are not alone, and to give them a safe place to talk to people who understand what they are going through.
The SOUL Group was founded by Debbie Lynn, a retired teacher who lost her husband to suicide. Lynn has spoken to various members of the community who have faced the life-changing situation and believes the group will help suicide survivors through the grieving process.
“When you have people who’ve been through it and survived, you get it,” Lynn said. “… That’s why we started this group. Because when you can talk to someone who has been through such a horrible tragedy and they understand your feelings, really understand your feelings, you just feel like you’re not alone anymore.”
Lynn founded the group with a friend because the closest support group met in Newnan, and they saw the need for a support system in LaGrange. Lynn said her husband’s death hit her hard and surprised many who knew him.
“Nobody who knew him could believe that he would have committed suicide,”she said. “And, you know, suicide doesn’t matter how involved you are. How poor or rich or color, anything. It goes across the board. And so I just am so sad that I really didn’t know what to do. I did everything I could have done as far as trying to get him help.”
Lynn’s husband, Keener, was receiving help with depression and anxiety at the time of his death. Lynn emphasized the importance of going through the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — with special attention to the last step because that was how she was able to keep moving.
“You can choose to continue with life and keep going,” Lynn said. “And that’s what I’ve chosen to do, and I chose it from the minute everything happened. I wanted to crawl into bed and curl up in a ball, and I knew if I even attempted to, I wouldn’t be able to come out. So you just keep on keeping on.”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention lists suicide as the 11th leading cause of death in Georgia. There were 1,2794 suicide deaths in 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control.
The SOUL Group will meet on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Builders’ Sunday School classroom at the LaGrange First United Methodist Church on Broad Street. For more information, contact the church office at 706-884-4635. For information about spotting the risk factors for suicide visit the AFSP website at https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/.
Alicia B. Hill is a correspondent for LaGrange Daily News. Reach the news office at 706-884-7311.