New Plattsburgh group helps people who lost loved ones to suicid - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New Plattsburgh group helps people who lost loved ones to suicide

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A group in Plattsburgh is hoping to help people who have lost loved ones to suicide. Made up of community members, emergency responders and medical officials, the team hopes to break the stigma and provide support.

Tamara Landry Cowan has lost multiple family members to suicide. First, her mother when she was just 2 years old. And most recently, she lost her 14-year-old son, Nate. 

"That's in the back of your mind that somehow I didn't protect my child. What could I have done differently? And I have another son and I don't want this to ever happen to him or to anyone else that I know, so that's why I became part of this group," said Landry Cowan.

Landry Cowan is helping start a new group called the Clinton County Suicide Postvention Response Team to help people like her whose loved ones have died by suicide. On Wednesday, the group introduced themselves and their mission to the public in Plattsburgh.

"Why postvention? Because postvention serves as a powerful prevention strategy," said Amanda Burlis, Clinton County Coalition to Prevent Suicide.

The new team will be a branch of the Clinton County Coalition to Prevent Suicide which has focused on efforts of prevention and intervention for years. Coordinator Bonnie Black says Clinton County has four times the number of completed suicides per year on average than the rest of the state. 

"So rural, lack of transportation, reduced number of providers: it's a perfect storm as to why we have a high suicide rate," said Black.

For those who request their help, they'll provide everything from basic home essentials like tissues and paper towels to packets of information.

"We will have also a packet of contemplative meditations, resources for faith groups because the person may or may not be connected, or may or may not want to be connected. We will have other important information about mental health," said Black.

Landry Cowan says the stigma that surrounds suicide makes it difficult for people to know who they can turn to for help and that's why she feels the group is important.

"We're not only going to respond after it happens, but we're going to check on the person when the family members stop coming around, when the friends stop coming and they think that you should be healed at that point, but you're far from it," said Landry Cowan.

The group will only reach out to victims' families if they've requested their help. The teams will officially kick off their work April 1.

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