BUCKHANNON – Brenda Flack, one of the organizers of a suicide survivors support group in Buckhannon, said that she and another local woman, Dee Brown, started meeting monthly about three years ago.
The two wanted to give others dealing with the loss of a family member, friend, co-worker or other loved one to suicide a place where they could find comfort and compassion.
The group, Angels Among Us, has a Facebook page, and Flack said it is set to ‘private’ so everyone can feel free to talk and tell their story if they wish.
Flack said the next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 3 at South Buckhannon Mission Church, located at 152 Randolph St. in Buckhannon. The social hour begins at 5 p.m., and the meeting follows from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of every month.
Brown’s son, Zach Post, died by suicide in 2012, and Slack said that was what got the group going. Brown said that within the last six months, Angels Among Us has been recognized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“So, when folks in our area search, our group will come up,” Brown said. “When Zach passed away, there was nowhere in the area to go for help. I was so lost – I searched for suicide jewelry and found a place – they had a group that met in Charleston, and that is how our group came to be because we finally decided to do something here because people in the area needed a ‘safe place.’”
Brown said Angels Among Us is that “safe place.”
“It’s unique and open,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if all we do is talk about our grocery shopping the past week … Everyone in the group knows everyone in the room is in the same mindset we are. It is safe to talk about anything because we are all survivors in one way or another.”
Brown said suicide happens more than people think, saying there is one suicide every 44 seconds around the world.
“We just want people to know they have some place to go,” Brown said.
Flack said the meetings are open to survivors of suicide.
“Those attending are family members, friends, co-workers or anyone who has been affected by suicide,” Flack said. “There seems to be a stigma that goes along with that. Sometimes it is kind of hard to deal with that.”
She said during the meetings, folks get together who are dealing with the same issues.
“We know we are not alone – we don’t judge how folks are feeling,” Flack said. “Some folks will be pissed, some will be angry, some will be sad. Sometimes it helps just to be with people that have gone through the same things you have.”
Flack said the meetings offer the opportunity to speak with others and share, noting each meeting begins with each person sharing who they’ve lost.
“We light candles for the loved ones we have lost and read a poem,” Flack said. “We just talk about how everyone is doing and what’s going on in everyone’s lives. It is a forum for folks to talk about and share anything they want or need to talk about. We usually don’t have speakers – we are still a small group.”
However, she said she understands not everyone wants to talk.
“Some people come and just want to listen without speaking, and that is fine, too,” Flack said. “We meet every month, and we have about seven or eight regular attendees and every now and again, we have others who attend. We are always accepting new members to our group. We are here for anyone who needs us.”
Flack said she wants folks who have lost someone to know they are not alone.
“We are here for them if they need us,” Flack said. “We are here if they need to vent, to cry on somebody’s shoulder or if they need someone to talk to or just need someone to listen to them. We are here – you are not alone.”
“We want people to know we have folks who have been through this,” she added. “Don’t be afraid to attend our meetings and reach out to me or Dee. We are here for you. Even if people just want to come and listen, we are here for you.”
During Festival Fridays, Flack said the group sponsored an informational table and shared information about their group, pins, cards and other items.
“We wanted to spread the news of the Angels Among Us group and invite others to attend,” she said.
Angels Among Us has a private Facebook page. Organizers can be reached by calling Brown at 304-472-0434 or Flack at 304-472-1823.