THOUSANDS of pounds have been raised and scores of bereaved have been comforted by a group set up to help those bereaved by suicide.
The Advertiser reported in June how the monthly Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) group was established.
Now, after holding its first three meetings, the group’s Joy Heal spoke to the Advertiser about how opening up to others has helped victims.
She also revealed her organisation has raised nearly £4,000 for SOBS and mental health charities including Uttoxeter’s Art and Soul and YESS groups.
Mrs Heal and husband Phil lost their son, Jonathan (pictured), to suicide in 2011, just three months after his 20th birthday.
In June she revealed that she and Mr Heal had planned their own suicide soon after the tragedy.
However, they are now channelling their grief into helping others in a similar situation.
They have also arranged a ladies’ night fund-raiser – An Evening for Jonathan – at the New Broom, Checkley, for Thursday, October 24.
Mrs Heal said: “We are still very much in the early process of establishing our group but we’ve met some really lovely people who are all bereaved by suicide.
“Many who have attended have said they’d been very apprehensive about attending but and found it good to talk and very comforting.
“One woman stated she felt stronger just knowing that we are there if she needs us.
“As well as the group meetings, we are also supporting bereaved who can’t make it or aren’t ready to open up in public by phone, text and email.”
Two years after Jonathan’s death, the Heals have thanked the friends and family who help them deal with their loss.
Mrs Heal said: “We are both very much bereft by the loss of Jonathan. We both fight very hard to carry on in this new life we have.
“For months following Jonathan's death the world was a very black place for us. Grief is just so exhausting and everything takes a great deal of effort.
“We’re extremely fortunate to not only have each other but some wonderful family, friends and neighbours.
“They kept watch over us both in the early days and nights when we were seriously considering suicide.
“They now continue to support us by listening and caring. They support our fund-raising by holding events or giving donations. The biggest gift they all give us is their time.”
The Heals have been raising cash for Jonathan’s Fund, the trust set up in his name.
Mrs Heal said: “All fund raising is done in Jonathan's name for our charity, Jonathan's Fund. The aim of the fund is to support our SOBS Uttoxeter Branch and help prevent suicide by supporting local mental health-related initiatives or projects.
“We have, to date, donated £800 to other charities.”
An Evening for Jonathan, which is an event for ladies only, features a two-course buffet and a talk and demonstration by ‘The Chocolate Tailor’, including samples of hand-crafted, bespoke chocolates.
Tickets cost £12.50 and the night gets underway at 7.30pm.