New Hartford, N.Y. - St. Stephens Episcopal Church in New Hartford was the site for healing on Saturday for those in our area that have lost a loved one to suicide.
National Survivors of Suicide Day is a day set aside by the United States Congress back in 1999 that has since been held annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year, the National Survivors of Suicide Day program locally was held at St. Stephens Episcopal Church on Oxford Rd. in New Hartford, and it came just days after a 16 year old transgendered boy from Waterville, named Jason Pomeroy, took his own life.
The Very Rev. Joell Szachara, Rector at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, says the loss of Pomeroy has affected many people here locally, "I just think of the whole Waterville community and how it has affected everybody." Szachara says she was happy to host this year's National Survivors of Suicide Day program, "Whatever we can do, we open our doors and welcome anybody and everybody."
Local Licensed Clinical Social Worker Linda Troutman Zelows was on hand on Saturday to talk to those that came to the event to seek help. Troutman Zelows says National Survivors of Suicide Day is a day when the friends and family of those who have died by suicide can join together for healing and support and a day that those that can provide help make themselves available to help in the healing process.
Although the family and friends of Jason Pomeroy did not attend Saturday's event, Troutman Zelows wants them to know there are plenty of resources here in the Mohawk valley to help them try and cope with their loss.
Amanda Nortz of New Hartford attended Saturday's program. She lost a family member to suicide 8 years ago. She says this was her first suicide survivor's event she's ever attended, "It's been a process, and I have a couple of friends recently that I've known that have opened up and said that they have had thoughts (of suicide) and so I wanted to come and learn a little bit on how I should handle it, find out what are some things to do and say, what are some of the proper agencies that they should call."
Nortz says her heart broke when she heard about the 16 year old from Waterville this week and says her heart goes out to the his parents, "My heart breaks for you both and I wish, I wish it hadn't happened. I wish everything for you both. Words can't express enough how much I feel for both."
Nortz says those who have lost someone to suicide, like herself, know when they are ready to talk to someone about their feelings, and she hopes the family and friends of Jason Pomeroy will open up because she says it does help, "I hope they can reach out to the help that's around. I'm sure that there are a lot of people that are going to surround them with love and I hope that they can take advantage of it because a lot of people care."
As far as resources for suicide survivors, Troutman Zelows says there are a number of them.
There is MCAT, the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team which is available 24/7. She says if you need someone to talk to, or to get information on where to go for help, just give them a call at (315) 732-6228.
There is a also meeting that takes place once a month called the Suicide Survivors Group meeting.
It's being held this Wednesday and every third Wednesday of the month from 6:30 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at First Methodist Church in New Hartford.
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