MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — When you think of support groups, you might think of substance abuse groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, but a new group in Muskegon is focused on helping people who have attempted to kill themselves.
The program, run through the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Muskegon County, was created three months ago.
“Typically when somebody is struggling with suicidal thoughts or has attempted, they typically don’t talk about it.” Scott Teichmer, the co-chair of the coalition, said. “Silence is kind of the normal route, there’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness.”
He said that stigma and staying silent can be a deadly combination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people ages 10 to 64.
“This (support group) gives an avenue for people to actually have an environment, a safe space, to talk, to open up,” Teichmer said.
He has a personal connection to the group. He’s a survivor of a suicide attempt.
“I’m one of the facilitators and the other facilitator, we are both suicide attempt survivors,” he said. “When I share my story, that helps other people.”
The Suicide Attempt Survivors Support Group meets the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. Anyone who is a survivor and is over 18 can attend. The group meets at the Mercy Health Hackley Campus, and there’s a reason why:
“The reason that we have our meetings at Hackley hospital is because there is an emergency room and a behavioral health unit in case somebody might show up to the group and be in crisis,” Teichmer explained.
He said that there are ways you can help someone if you know they’re struggling.
“For anyone who might worry about somebody who is struggling with suicidal ideations, suicidal thoughts or has attempted, is empathetic listening,” he said. “It’s the greatest gift you could give somebody just to sit with somebody in their pain, and listen.”
Referrals and walk-ins at the support group are welcome. You can contact Teichmer for more information by calling 231.557.4525 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline any time at 1.800.273.8255.