Face of Suicide; a survivor's story - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Face of Suicide; a survivor's story


JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - One person today in Arkansas will take their own life according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  It's not something focused on any certain age group or race.  It could be anyone.  This year in Jonesboro the suicide rate is up substantially.

If you have ever had someone close to you commit suicide, you know it is something that sticks with you.  With help from the Jonesboro Police Department's Criminal Analysis Division, 8 investigated the suicide numbers for the last four years.

In 2010, there were 7 completed suicides.  The same number was reported in 2011.  In 2012, it dropped just slightly with 6 reported suicides.  The numbers look fairly consistent, but this year there was a jump.  So far, there have been 10 suicides in 2013. 

Unfortunately, for those statistics, it's too late.  Those suicide numbers do not even include the 240 attempted suicides since 2010.  If you are having suicidal thoughts, please get help.  If we can't convince you, we found someone who may convince you to seek help.  

Mary Robertson was 17 when she lost her middle sister Denise.  They were just a year apart.  The day of her sister's death is engraved in her mind. 

"We were cleaning house and I heard the gun shot. When I walked to the door, she had just fallen back on the bed, straight back on the bed, and the blood had just started coming out. And that's not just something you forget," said Robertson.   

For years, she kept all her emotion inside.  "I didn't think it was okay to talk about it.  I was afraid if I mentioned it someone else would have a breakdown or something.  You know, that it would cause someone else a lot of pain.  So, I just kept it to myself," said Robertson. 

Mary said her inner struggle eventually led her to a dark place.  "I really seriously thought about, because those images were rough."

The scar of Denise's death is something Robertson kept private for over a decade, but eventually decided something needed to give.  "I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror and decided, you know what…you have kids; this is ridiculous.  You can't do this. I went and got help, started talking," said Robertson.

She turned to counselors, therapists, really anyone who would listen.  "People need to know it is okay to talk about.  It's not healthy not to.  It's just not," said Robertson.

But this would not be the only person close to her to take their own life.  "In 2003, I lost a dear friend that was pretty much like a son to me.  And then the next year I lost my baby sister.  Denise was hard.  Denise was really hard.  But in a way, Angela (her baby sister) was even harder because we had so much more time together.  She and I were so close that we were talking two or three times a day," said Robertson.

After Robertson lost both of her siblings, she felt like she had to be the backbone for her mom.  "She told me for years that there was no other loss like losing a child and she was right," said Robertson. 

Almost two years ago Robertson lost her stepson David.  David was 27 when he committed suicide leaving his two young children behind.  "He loved hunting and fishing and his boys.  When we lost him, I started going to support groups," said Robertson, but the closest one she could find was in Searcy.  "You had to drive.  There wasn't one in Jonesboro.  I would like to see that happen," said Robertson.

She has since started her own support group in Batesville that meets once a month.  "I felt like we needed something.  Somebody besides me needed one.  I have kind of taken these scars and decided that my purpose is to try and stop some of this madness.  If one person would listen to me and come out of that dark place, then I've done what I've set out to do," said Robertson. 

If you are in a dark place, like Mary said, don't be scared to talk about it.


Below is a list of resources and support groups:


Arkansas Crisis Hotline/Online Chat:

Phone: (888) 274-7472


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:




Arkansas State University to host suicide prevention program:

  • Arkansas State University's Counseling Center will team with the Celebrate Recovery Ministry of First Baptist Church in Jonesboro to host a suicide prevention program and to honor those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

It will take place Monday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Carl R. Reng Student Union auditorium, third floor.


The keynote speak will be board certified psychiatrist Dr. Leigh Anne Bennett.  She will present, "A Lifeline of Hope…A Personal Story of Depression, Suicide and Prevention." This event is free and open to the public.  Parking is available in the parking garage located next to the Carl R. Reng Student Union on North Caraway Road.


From the American Association of Suicidology:

Handbook for Survivors of Suicide:  http://www.suicidology.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=229&name=DLFE-73.pdf

Handbook for Survivors of Suicide en Espanol:  http://www.suicidology.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=259&name=DLFE-782.pdf   

Surviving After Suicide fact sheet:  http://www.suicidology.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=262&name=DLFE-533.pdf

Risk Factors for Suicide and Suicidal Behaviors:  http://www.suicidology.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=248&name=DLFE-849.pdf


From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

Support groups in Arkansas:

Survivors of Suicide Support Group of Cleburne County-Heber Springs:  https://www.afsp.org/coping-with-suicide/find-support/find-a-support-group/arkansas/survivors-of-suicide-support-group-of-cleburne-county-heber-springs  501-206-6909

Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group-Batesville:  https://www.afsp.org/coping-with-suicide/find-support/find-a-support-group/arkansas/survivors-of-suicide-loss-support-group-batesville  870-799-4047

Survivors of Suicide Dr. Robert E. Elliott Foundation (Searcy):  https://www.afsp.org/coping-with-suicide/find-support/find-a-support-group/arkansas/s.o.s.-dr.-robert-e.-elliott-foundation  501-278-HELP (4357)


Support groups in Missouri:

Suicide Bereavement Support Group-Cape Girardeau:  https://www.afsp.org/coping-with-suicide/find-support/find-a-support-group/missouri/suicide-bereavement-support-group-cape-girardeau   573-450-5625

Survivors of Suicide Support Group-Cape Girardeau:  https://www.afsp.org/coping-with-suicide/find-support/find-a-support-group/missouri/survivors-of-suicide-support-group-cape-girardeau  573-334-6508


Other sites:

Faces of Suicide:  http://www.facesofsuicide.com/  An international website for survivors to voluntarily share photos and tributes of their loved ones who have committed suicide.  Includes links to grief support groups.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:  http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/  Includes links to the latest data in the United States, as well as information on youth suicide and support.  According to the CDC, the number of suicide deaths in 2009 surpass the number of deaths in motor vehicle crashes. 


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