What is a self-help support group?
Mutual self-help is the process of help yourself through helping others. Being a member of a group facilitates this process and provides a sense of belonging and acceptance. Participation is empowering and enhances self-esteem and coping ability. Information sharing and self-education are key elements.
What happens at a meeting?
Most of the time our meetings simply involve introducing ourselves, saying what we are comfortable in saying about our loss, and sharing our thoughts and feelings on grieving. Facilitators may share copies of materials for possible discussion. Our meetings are “open-ended” meaning that you can join anytime.
Who leads a group?
All of our groups are peer-led, which means the facilitator is a suicide griever. They act as enablers rather than chairpersons. They try to assure that each meeting is meaningful and effective for all in attendance. As necessary they may close off discussions not related to the group's support mission.
Is there a charge involved?
There is never a charge of any kind involved with attending an SOS support group. See “Helping SOS” for ways you can help us continue and expand our efforts. SOS is meets the criteria as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization under the IRS Code.
What if there’s no group in my area?
You are certainly welcome to travel to the nearest group. If this is not practical you may try these alternatives. If you are the parent, grandparent, or sibling of a suicide victim you might consider The Compassionate Friends (see links). Hospitals and hospices sometimes host grief support groups. Some grief counselors also hold support groups.
Can I go to more than one SOS group?
Some suicide grievers have found this to be helpful, and this has been done from time to time. There is no SOS policy discouraging this practice. When there is more than one group in close proximity, some have “tried out” each group before joining one.
What if I want to start a group?
Most groups are started by individuals seeking to fill a need in their community. While there is no firm rule, most group leaders have found the role easier to handle after they have had some time to come to terms with their own loss and grief. The best way to start is to attend a group to see what’s involved. We are available to help. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention periodically offers facilitator trainings.