Members of the Jacksonville community that have been affected by suicide are invited to gather together this week for a special event.
The Suicide Prevention Coalition, also known as S.T.A.R.S., is trying out a new approach to offer a monthly activity for survivors, friends and loved ones that have lost someone to suicide.
The event for February is in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, as those effected by suicide are invited to write A Letter to a Lost Loved One.
Sherri McLaughlin with S.T.A.R.S. says that there is never any pressure to come to a S.T.A.R.S. event, and that A Letter to a Lost Loved One can offer support to those coping with suicide during what can be an emotional time of year.
“Participants will be able to choose what kind of stationary they would like to use, there will be light music playing, and they can sit down and write a letter to someone that they have lost to suicide. A lot of times, they feel like there are a lot of things they would like to have said, or get off of their chest. Things that they haven’t been able to express they can put in this letter, then they can put it in an envelope, they can seal it if they want, and they can do whatever they want with the letter.
But it is a therapeutic way for someone to express emotions. We have also invited those who have attempted suicide, and they can write a letter to people that maybe they are having difficulty expressing themselves and how they felt and what was going on with them, and then be able to either give those letters or keep them for themselves.”
McLaughlin says that the S.T.A.R.S. name may still sound new, but that the group has been assisting and supporting those affected by suicide for a long time.
“S.T.A.R.S. Was originally the Morgan, Scott Suicide Prevention Coalition,and it tries to bring about awareness to the prevention of suicide, and let people know where they can get help if they are thinking that they are suicidal, and let other people know that there is a support system for them if they have lost someone to suicide.
We are always open to anyone who would like to come, there is no pressure whatsoever, they can come in and out of any event that we have. We host the Walk Out of the Darkness event in the fall in September during National Suicide Prevention Month. It’s just a very supportive group within the community and we are there for anyone that needs us.”
A Letter to a Lost Loved One will be held this Thursday, February 13th at the Dreams Center on College Avenue, across from the Jacksonville Public Library from 5:00 to 6:00 pm.
The group meets at the dreams center the 2nd Thursday of each month to offer support to anyone who is impacted by suicide in West Central Illinois. A link to the S.T.A.R.S. Facebook page can be found in this article on WLDS/WEAI dot com