Online Support Groups
Grief After Suicide: Support is Just a Mouse-Click Away
By Karyl Chastain Beal, Founder of the POS-FFOS Internet Community
“I’m sorry, Ma’m, but someone you care about took his own life.”
Those are some of the most devastating words anyone could ever hear. How can those left behind go on in the face of such news? Where do people go for help when they experience a tragedy that confuses the mind and shocks the heart?
Some people search for help on the Internet. They google words like suicide, grief and support, and links to Internet support groups come up. Online groups emerged in the early 1990’s, and over time, they have become a popular source of support, information and inspiration.
What is it that draws people to an Internet support group?
When members of on-line groups are asked what they get out of being in the group, the number one response is that they find out that they are not alone. They feel relief when they realize that others have experienced losses similar to theirs.
In the group, the members can read the experiences, thoughts, feelings and memories of many other people who are walking the same road they are on. Some of them may have lost their loved one years ago, while others may have just found out. Some of them may be in Tennessee or Idaho or Alaska; some of them may be in Australia or Ireland. The common bond of suicide loss pulls them together, no matter who they are or where they are from.
The members of an on-line group also appreciate the fact that they can write to the group and tell them about the person who died without fear of being told it’s time to move on. They can also write to the group about their experiences, thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, they discuss things that they could never talk about with people in person.
One of the best reasons for joining an Internet support group, however, is the fact that the members can connect with group 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Not only is the group accessible at any time (as long as there is a computer and Internet connection), but it can be reached almost anywhere in the world, from the comfort of one’s home to wi-fi coffee shop, libraries, airports, and more. With increased use of smart phones, getting connected to the group is amazingly quick and easy toda
Finally, Internet support groups today provide much more than an e-mail connection. The members may socialize with each other in private chat rooms or on facilitated group phone calls. They post photos for others to see; they work on special memorial projects together, and they may also meet in person.
Why are the Internet groups effective?
One size does not fit all, so Internet groups may not be for everyone, however, many people believe that the groups give them a connection to others who truly understand. The members care about each other. The acceptance they give is remarkable.
When someone writes to the group saying they are drowning in sorrow, it doesn’t take long for someone else to write back and say, “I care. I’m reaching out to you. Would you like to take my hand?”
What’s even more remarkable is that today, as soon as someone hears the sad verdict that someone they cared about has died by suicide, they can find help within moments; Internet support groups are just a mouse-click away.
Internet Bereaved by Suicide Support Groups
The main web site is www.pos-ffos.com
To join POS (Parents of Suicides) or FFOS (Friends and Families of Suicides), the quickest way is to either email Karyl Chastain Beal (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask for an application, or to go to http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/parentsofsuicides/ to sign up for POS
or to http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/ffofsuicides/ to sign up for FFOS.