Suicide bereavement support group launches

| 16/06/2019
CNS Local Life
April Lewis

(CNS Local Life): The Alex Panton Foundation (APF) is launching, in conjunction with the Bethesda Counselling Centre, a bereavement support group for those who have lost loved ones to suicide. The group, which will meet for the first time Monday, 24 June, aims to provide private and confidential grief support in a safe place, where people can share their experiences as they move through the healing process.

Another goal for the group is to provide participants with the necessary tools to understand the grieving process and help them through it.

The non-profit APF was established to raise awareness of mental health illnesses affecting children and young adults in the Cayman Islands with a particular focus on anxiety and depression. The foundation collaborates with local organisations on numerous initiatives and the bereavement support group is the latest to be launched, sponsored by Cayman National Bank.

APF has also received financial support through donations from winning teams of the recent Cayman Billfish Rundown. The charity was chosen as the beneficiary for the tournament’s inaugural year and teams were encouraged to donate a portion of their winnings, which amounted to a contribution of $23,000 that was presented last week.

Shane Purcell, representing APF, thanked Hurley’s Media, Dart and Camana Bay for their support, adding, “Similar thanks to the competitors for their donations, it truly means a lot. It’s great to see this generosity alive and well.”

The donated funds will go towards emotional literacy programmes which the charity is hoping to roll out in September. APF is also working with the Health Services Authority and Mental Health Commission to develop a children’s and adolescent mental health hub to respond to crises and young people at risk of mental health difficulties.

CNS Local Life
(L-R) Randy Merren, Billfish Rundown tournament director; Nathan Ebanks, of donating team Reel Addiction; Shane Purcell, of the Alex Panton Foundation; and Simon Ecclefield, of donating team Ecks-Change at cheque presentation

Lewis, prior to facilitating the bereavement support group, worked with the Cayman Islands Government as a counsellor, was the director of the Employee Assistance Programme and installed one of the first online therapy programmes in the Cayman Islands. She holds a master of arts degree in Christian counselling and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

“I am delighted to be working with the APF to launch and facilitate this support group. Suicide is such a sensitive subject and those who have tragically lost loved ones to suicide need all the support they can get to come to terms with their loss, and start the long road to healing,” she said. “As attendees will learn tools to help them through their journey, they will be surrounded by others who have experienced similar circumstances.”

Speaking in support of this new initiative, APF chair Jane Panton recalled the devastation of losing her son to suicide in October 2010. “I have experienced the deaths of loved ones and my parents through normal circumstances but losing my beloved son to suicide was like a wrecking ball that just kept swinging at me over and over again. Our immediate and extended family underwent extensive counselling in various ways and had our own small support groups.

“I was very fortunate to have most wonderful friends and family supporting me through this but I always felt like I was becoming too heavy for them and did not want to lean on them too much. I think through this support group, we can share our experiences without feeling like we are being burdensome to our supporter/listening ear. I hope to be at the first meeting to share my own experiences on my journey to healing.”

The support group, which is free to attend, will meet every Monday from 24 June-29 July from 6:15pm to 7:15pm at the Bethesda Counselling Centre, Unit 4, 68 Mary Street, George Town.

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Category: Local News, Medical and Health, Youth

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well done.