continued “We have to slowly soften the stigma of the word,” Blackburn said. “People don’t like to talk about it. People still aren’t okay with the actual word.”
That’s why the educational piece SAS hopes to accomplish is so important.
“These people just need people that know what they’re feeling,” Dennee said. “We’re out here. And we can help.”
In addition to helping those who may be struggling with mental illness and considering suicide, SAS also reaches out to those who, like Dennee, have lost a loved one to suicide. The group has a support group on Facebook where people can share their stories and find support from those in similar situations.
“This spring, I just felt like I had hit rock bottom,” said Cate Alexander of Cicero, whose brother died by suicide five years ago. “I remember just lying on my living room floor… I have kids, and you know you’re not going to do anything. But you just can’t stand feeling this way. Then I found this group, and it’s like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It makes such a difference knowing there are other people who feel the same way you do.”
Ultimately, SAS wants to take the Facebook group and make it a live support group; when funds are available, the organization hopes to purchase or rent a space to hold face-to-face meetings on a regular basis. Other goals for the future include a line of brochures on depression in youths and teens, PTSD, an awareness trailer that can go to events and a certified on-call counselor, as well as funding to help families who’ve suffered the loss of a loved one by suicide.
“When you’re unexpectedly faced with those funeral expenses, it’s an added burden,” Blackburn said. “We want to be able to help with that.”