Suicide Grief: Moms Form Club 'No One Wants to Be In' to Help Families Who Lost Loved Ones

Photo: (Photo : Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

A group of mothers in Minnesota is part of a club that "no one wants to be in" because of the circumstances that brought them together. However, the group "Thumbs Up in Elk River," has become the lifeline for families struggling with suicide grief or the death of their loved ones by suicide.

Formed by Katie Shatusky in 2010 after her grandfather took his own life, Thumbs Up in Elk River runs various family-friendly events to connect with parents and other family members. Shatusky said that their group has also been helping raise awareness on mental health disorders.

"It's definitely a club no one else wants to be in," Shatusky said and noted that they've had a record number of members in 2021.

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Something Has to Be Done

Moms Janet Casperson and Shannon Lee deal, who both lost their teen children to suicide, deal with suicide grief by working with schools in Minnesota to help teenagers with mental health issues. They believe that this crisis desperately needs solutions.

Casperson's 16-year-old son, Sam, committed suicide in January 2020 after losing some of his friends to the same incident in the fall of 2019. Sam's girlfriend, Ashland, also killed herself six months later. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 48 teenagers committed suicide in 2020, among 700 cases state-wide.

Professional counselor Christian Sarran said that the pandemic has brought on more burdens for people with mental health issues in East Texas. The suicide rate in this region has been one of the highest across the state, driving opioid use and other addiction on an upward trend.

Sarran said that the darker, colder winter months could trigger more cases because people won't be getting out as much. However, some support groups, including the newly formed Resolute Nurses, help people struggling with mental health issues and family members dealing with suicide grief who may feel like they cannot reach out to someone.

In Los Angeles, the suicide rate among 18-year-old and younger exceeded the four-year average of 23 to 25 suicides. More children between 12 to 17 years old visited the emergency department for suspected suicide attempts in 2020.

While there are crisis youth centers across the state, the stress of the pandemic has placed more pressure on the healthcare system. Hospital beds meant to treat young patients who attempted to take their own life are bumped for COVID-19 patients.

National Suicide Hotline Designation Act

In 2020, former President Donald J. Trump signed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which will provide a universal telephone number as a suicide prevention hotline. Starting January 2022, individuals may call 988, instead of the current number 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), to receive counsel for suicide grief or help or guidance for individuals with emotional problems.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the shorter number will make it easier for every American to access "life-saving resources." The change will also allow states to increase the volume of their service at the crisis centers.

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