Parents of Suicides (PoS)

Friends & Families of Suicides (FFoS)

Internet Communities

Founded on October 9, 1998


Click the link to join either group.





Weeping In Kansas, Sobbing In Australia
             Karyl Chastain Beal
                   April 2009

Martha cannot sleep, so she drags herself out of bed and stumbles to the computer. She gets online and checks her e-mail. She’s connected with her online support group, Parents of Suicides (POS); she is not alone.

Martha’s 12 year old son, Ian, took his life, and now, via the Internet, she has a support group she can be involved with at her convenience. She doesn’t have to dress up or drive across town at night to participate.

Through POS, Martha communicates with other parents who are also grieving the death of a son or daughter to suicide; people who have suffered the same type of loss she has. At the end of Martha’s messages, her signature tells it all.

Weeping in Kansas.
Martha, Mom to Ian
11/10/94 - 3/18/07


POS is an Internet community whose members connect with each other through an e-mail system that sends messages to all members of the group. About 3000 messages go through the group each month; they can be read or sent 24 hours a day.

POS’s membership is international, with members from Ireland, Scotland, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, France, Canada and Jamaica joining the American members.

POS was created on October 9, 1998 as a way of connecting a few bereaved parents who found each other, who simply needed on that day to survive. The fact it still thrives after more than ten years is a testament to the commitment and dedication of members who remain with the group to help others.

E-mail exchanges are just one aspect of POS. The group also publishes a twice-monthly e-newsletter called The Butterfly Net.

There is systematic acknowledgement of the names of members’ sons and daughters on birth and memorial dates within the group.

POS has its own private chat room, and each year, POS and its partner group, Friends and Families of Suicides (FFOS), hold a special Holiday Remembrance Program in the chat room for all members of both groups.

Members of the group work cooperatively on other projects, too. They have created eight memorial quilts so far, and they have published a hardback memorial book and two memorial cookbooks.

POS members also attend retreats together twice a year in Tennessee, where they meet face-to-face with the people they’ve connected with online. Some of the members from outside of the US fly in to attend the retreats each year. While they are at the retreat, they also get to see another special project: the International Suicide Memorial Wall.


POS members have developed several websites. Some of them are memorial sites, some offer grief support and resources, and some help educate the public about suicide in hopes of helping to reduce the number of tragic deaths.

The group websites are the Suicide Memorial Wall, Faces of Suicide, Suicide Grief Support Forum and Suicide Reference Library. And of course, there is the main website for the POS-FFOS Internet Community. (Links are at the end.)

A partner Internet group evolved from POS to help meet the needs of people other than parents. Friends and Families of Suicides (FFOS) Internet Community is for anyone whose life has been affected by suicide: spouses or partners, adult siblings, grandparents, adult children of, co-workers or friends, and other family members.

What's even more amazing is that POS is completely a volunteer community, run by members fully committed to its objectives. No fees are involved for group membership or to participate on any of the websites, and we have no paid staff.

Because of their involvement with the group, some POS members become active in other healing projects. They create memorial trees and quilts, publish poems and books, and attend or facilitate support groups.

Others choose to focus directly on suicide prevention more directly. They help educate their communities and raise awareness. They join tasks forces, state coalitions and suicide prevention organizations. They network with policy makers, raise funds for suicide research, and participate in public awareness activities.

The overall mission of POS is to help individuals and families find the strength within themselves to heal or live again. In helping families, POS is also saving lives.

POS has survived over 10 years because it meets needs in a way that is not intrusive or imposing. It allows all members to control their own level of involvement, and it encourages healthy survival.

The first step in helping new members appreciate the value of the online support community is to let them know that they are not alone. After they join, many members reach out their hands and walk with them.

Jacky, Ashley’s mum, from Australia wrote:

“I didn't find POS until 13 months after my son died. I was floundering, badly, no-one to talk to, no -one who understood, thought I was going crazy.
Sitting on the Internet one day, searching, POS came up, I joined. I had no idea what to expect, I was clueless, I was desperate.
Then the mail started coming though, masses and masses of it, I was stunned
beyond comprehension.
I read, I cried. I read, I cried some more. I read again, I sobbed my heart
out. But, I felt better, because, all of us sudden I wasn't alone. There were
others who knew how I felt.”

Martha is still in Kansas, and Jacky is still in Australia, but neither one is alone any more.


Hands Across the Ocean
Karyl Chastain Beal
July 1, 2009

The Internet has removed fences and geographic borders, changing the face of grief support groups. Even the ocean is no longer a barrier to connecting with people ... just like us.

When I attended face-to-face support group meetings shortly after my daughter Arlyn took her life, the other people there were people that I could easily have bumped into while shopping at Wal-mart, going to a medical appointment, or attending church. We read the same newspaper, our children attended the same schools, and we generally spoke with the same southern accent. They were people I related to because we shared the same community environment.

Now, however, people who join the Parents of Suicides (POS) & Friends and Families of Suicides (FFOS) Internet Community for grief support will find a totally different group of folks to connect with. Some of them may live in the same state, or a state far away, but it's just as likely that the people they connect with will live in France, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, China, or Ireland. They may speak with a Russian or German accent, a Scottish accent, a Portuguese accent, or an English or Australian accent.

Is it possible for people whose language and cultures are so different to bond, just because they have one thing in common: the death of someone to suicide?

Absolutely yes. Not only do the members of the POS and FFOS groups connect with each other, from all over the world, but some of them have formed friendships they expect to keep for the rest of their lives. Their friendships have been solidified by in-person visits, phone calls, gift exchanges, and more.

POS began on October 9, 1998 when a few people, all Americans, found each other on the Internet and decided to join together to help each other cope with the incomprehensible loss of their sons and daughters to suicide. They were desperate to know that they were not alone in grief.

Before the first year ended, Glennis Hunter (Kristin's mum) from New Zealand and Bob & Lynda Humphrey (Darren's parents) from England joined the group. We discovered that, aside from the fact Glennis and Lynda were mums rather than moms, their feelings, experiences, problems and concerns were much like ours. We were not from two different planets, after all.

During the years, hundreds of other "international" members joined POS and FFOS. From the very beginning, they have participated in our various projects. Some of them have squares on our memorial quilts and recipes in our memorial cookbooks. They join us regularly in the group's private chat room, even though their time zones do not match ours. They serve as group moderators and leaders, and they participate as enthusiastically as the American members do.

In 2002, Bob and Lynda flew over from England to attend one of our retreats, and they have returned to attend almost every retreat since then. (While here, they sometimes travel to other states to visit other members of the group in person. When they return to England, they always make a point to remember the sons and daughters of POS members in the annual candlelight vigils they attend during the holiday season.)

Members from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, and South Africa have attended retreats, too - some of them more than once.

But the ocean can be crossed both ways. Some of the members of the groups visit their POS and FFOS friends when they travel overseas. They've even taken vacations together, sending back happy photos of themselves together having fun.

Within the group, we sometimes discuss and compare community attitudes as they relate to death, suicide and grief. Even though some of the views may be different from ours, viewpoints and experiences may also be different from state to state, so in the big scheme of life, we find that we are all more alike than different.

We may also discuss and compare social issues such as mental health services, the legal and judicial system, and medical services. We gripe and complain about them, but we also acknowledge the positives. In our discussions, we discover that we have a great deal in common when it comes to dealing with social and political conditions without our countries.

Our e-mail connection has been enhanced by retreats and real-life visits, but it's also been influenced by the ability to chat with each other daily, to exchange photos, and to even make phone calls to other countries easily, thanks to Skype.

At times, the members of the Internet support groups actually forget that there is an ocean separating us from each other, because the daily connection is so real and alive. Our grieving experience is enriched by the connection with people from all over the world.

Broken hearts are universal, but thanks to the Internet, our hands reach across the ocean, and we find other hands reaching back to help us heal.



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