Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services are expanding their Survivors after Suicide (SAS) support group to the Santa Clarita Valley, starting on Saturday, March 22.
“Anyone who lost someone to suicide and is in need of support, this group is avaiable to them,” said a spokesperson for the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
Each group is made up of a therapist who is specialized in suicide bereavement and a co-faciltaor who is a suicide survivor. The therapist’s role is to guide the discussion, while the co-facilitator provides the group with a beacon of hope, Rick Mogil, program director, says. The eight-week program meets once a week for 90 minutes.
“The program is to help people move through their grief and learn some coping skills to pass on to others,” said Mogil. “We want to help them find some measure of peace in their grief.”
These support groups are held throughout Los Angeles County, but the closest group to Santa Clarita is in Sherman Oaks. Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services also offers suicide bereavement support groups for teens.
“I always wanted to host a group in Santa Clarita so people would not have to drive,” said Mogil. “We want to make this program more accessible because there are a lot of people who have lost someone to suicide.”
In recent years, Larry Schallert, assistant director of the College of the Canyon’s Student Health Center, has been a strong voice for suicide awareness in SCV, and believes a local support group would be a great resource for the community.
“We know people in the Santa Clarita and surrounding areas have tragically lost friends and family members to suicide, recently and in the past, so we are very happy that they can find support here with others in the community who have experienced a similar tragedy,” said Schallert.
Currently, they are recruiting for the group and urge those who are interested to call Mogil at 424-362-2912. Once someone shows interest, Mogil will conduct an intake interview over the phone to see where they are in their grief and if this group would be a good fit for them, Mogil says.
There is a suggested donation of $200 to cover the eight sessions, but they do not turn anyone away, according to Kim Kowsky, director of development and communications at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
“From these group sessions residents will be able to share their experience with people and experts who can better understand what they are going through,” said Schallert. “Losing someone to suicide is extremely difficult and is a unique situation and at the same time, different for everyone.”
17 years ago, Mogil experienced his own loss and has used his grief to help others by creating programs like this one. According to Mogil, this isn’t a job— it is a passion.
“There is always going to be a hole in your heart, that never changes, but we can put up barriers so we don’t fall into the depths of our grief,” said Mogil. “Our lives can continue.”
For more information about the SAS group or to apply, call Rick Mogil at 424-362-2912. To find mental health resources, ways to support someone with a mental illness or to get involved, visit the “Be The Difference” website at http://www.bethedifferencescv.org.