Together We Heal

September 3, 2019
Support group gathers together.

When someone commits suicide, it impacts family, friends and neighbors, and it is important for those individuals to get the support they need to move forward in their lives.

Middlesex Health recognizes this and created a support group, the Together We Heal Support Group, in response to the growing number of individuals affected by the traumatic loss associated with both suicide and substance overdose. The group’s first meeting was in March 2018, and it meets on the first Monday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Bardenheier Medical Training Center, located in the Bengtson-Wood building directly across from Middlesex Hospital’s main entrance.

The Together We Heal Support Group is meant to help people who experience this type of loss in a non-judgmental environment. Some generalized grief groups don’t always address the specific difficulties that come with managing grief related to suicide or substance overdose, explains Ken DiCapua, a Middlesex Health licensed clinical social worker who facilitates the support group. The Together We Heal Support Group focuses compassionate attention on those needs, he says.

Light shines through trees to symbolize hope and healing.

Attending the Together We Heal Support Group can help individuals feel connected to others who have similar experiences of loss. It can also provide a safe space for people to talk openly about these losses and the emotions they experience as a result, and it can help develop a social network for people in their time of need. A support group like the Together We Heal Support Group can also be an opportunity to increase community awareness and possibly provide advocacy in the community, DiCapua adds.

About suicide

The suicide rate in the United States has gone up significantly over the past several years. Statistically we are all at higher risk for suicide than we were 10 years ago, and even those who appear to have everything can become a victim.

No one sign specifically indicates the intent for suicide. However, some warning signs may include:

  • Withdrawing from usual activities
  • Saying they feel they are a burden on others
  • Making comments about suicide or that they would be better off dead
  • General risk factors for suicide include:
  • A history of prior suicide attempts
  • Depression
  • A history of bipolar disorder
  • A history of substance abuse, particularly alcohol
  • Age (If you are older than 55 and younger than 25, you are at greater risk.)
  • Gender (Men more commonly die from suicide due to using more lethal means, but women are more likely to attempt suicide.)
  • Divorce
  • A family history of suicide
  • A history of trauma/post traumatic stress disorder

It is important to know that while having a history of prior suicide attempts is a risk factor, not having a prior history doesn’t decrease your risk.

Additional information and resources

If you have any questions about Together We Heal, DiCapua can be reached at 860-358-3426. More information about services and resources is also available through the Middlesex Health Center for Behavioral Health. If you need immediate assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

You can also watch Dr. Jeffrey Shelton, chair of Psychiatry at Middlesex Health, talk with WFSB about suicide prevention and how to help a friend or loved one. The interview aired on September 10, 2019.

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