Working with survivors on suicide grief

AS PART of Suicide Awareness Week this year, the SOS (Samaritans of Singapore) is planning to organise a workshop on “Working with Survivors on Suicide Grief” specially for Methodist pastors and leaders.

There must be at least 20 participants before the SOS can conduct the three-hour workshop, from 9 am to noon, at the SOS Training Wing, Block 10, Cantonment Close, #01-01 (multi-storey car park) on Sept 16, 2009.

The training fee is $100 per participant (inclusive of handouts & refreshments).

What is suicide grief like? What is the emotional impact on survivors? How can the SOS help facilitate healing in survivors?

The workshop will impart skills on working with suicide survivors as well as provide the opportunity to share with participants the feedback the SOS has gathered from survivors about what has been helpful and less helpful.

In Singapore, at least one person commits suicide every day. A suicide never affects just one life since family members and loved ones are often left behind as survivors.

The SOS has been conducting workshops to prepare counsellors and social workers who work with survivors on managing their suicide grief. The SOS has also been working with suicide survivors who are church goers, who have shared their experiences, expectations and disappointments about the response from within their own Christian community.

Here is an excerpt from Why? When Both My Parents Took Their Lives, a book written by Yin, a suicide survivor supported by the SOS.

I could not pray.
I did not choose this journey;
It chose me, I had no say.
Oh God, why did you
Let him die that way?

I could not pray.
The shock, the truth,
The shocking truth of what was said.
Oh God, where were you
When my father died that day?
How could I pray?
No comfort left for me.
First you let suicide take my mother;
Oh God, was my lesson better learnt
When it also took my father?

How could I pray?
Left standing here in naked sorrow
Bereft of hope and branded;
Oh God, did you see me,
And did you feel me bleed?

Oh Lord,
I am so weary,
I walk alone, I am in need.
My words are full of anger
But my soul is full of grief.

Oh Lord,
Somehow you heard me,
Or was it me who did not see
For when I looked again
With your grace I saw relief.

With outstretched arms
They held me
And journeyed with my fears
And hand in hand we’re walking
Though our path is marked with tears.

I do not know, I’ll never know
Why this painful journey chose me.
But I thank you God
For those you sent
To walk this journey with me.


When faith means trusting our Father completely

ONE night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof.

The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I’ll catch you.”

He knew the boy had to jump to save his life.

All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof.

His father kept yelling: “Jump! I will catch you.” But the boy protested, “Daddy, I can’t see you.”

The father replied, “But I can see you and that’s all that matters.”

Here is a similar illustration: During the terrible days of the Blitz, a father, holding his small son by the hand, ran from a building that had been struck by a bomb.

In the front yard was a shell hole. Seeking shelter as quickly as possible, the father jumped into the hole and held up his arms for his son to follow.

Terrified, yet hearing his father’s voice telling him to jump, the boy replied, “I can’t see you!”

The father, looking up against the sky tinted red by the burning buildings, called to the silhouette of his son, “But I can see you. Jump!”

The boy jumped, because he trusted his father.

The Christian faith enables us to face life or meet death, not because we can see, but with the certainty that we are seen; not that we know all the answers, but that we are known. – DONNER ATWOOD.