Survivor Suicide Foundation wants more name recognition: ‘Fellows understand each other’

Last year, sixty people in Drenthe took their own lives, almost a quarter more than the year before. The fact that surviving relatives are deeply affected by such a sudden loss often remains underexposed. The Foundation Nabezijn na Suicide Drenthe therefore wants more attention for their initiative.

“It was December 1990. Like a bolt from the blue, I lost my only brother to suicide. I switched to autopilot. The world around you just keeps going, but you can’t just keep going,” says founder Gretha Luning. She was able to tell her story in a peer group in Overijssel, because she noticed that people around her did not always understand her. “I found the words for my feelings there. Others who had gone through the same thing helped me with that.”

Not much later, Luning set up the Survivorship after Suicide Drenthe foundation in Drenthe. Duttie Kluin was very supportive of this when her son died after suicide. “I found recognition. At a certain point you even think you’re going a bit crazy, but if someone has experienced the same thing, that’s so nice.”

“Sharing feelings, that you know you are not alone. It immediately creates a bond,” adds Henny Roos. Her daughter took her own life. “It was very sudden, so unexpected. I was numb, in shock. It took me a year and a half to understand what the impact was on the rest of my life. I had to move on, but you become a different person. Not everyone in my environment understood that.”

The foundation has now been in existence for thirty years. Everyone who loses a loved one to suicide and is left with questions, sadness or misunderstanding is welcome. In addition to Luning, Roos and Kluin have now also joined the foundation as board members.

The Survivorship after Suicide Drenthe foundation holds coffee mornings and visits people’s homes for an initial conversation. But not everyone knows that the foundation exists. “For example, I first spoke to GGZ, but that did not help me. Desperately I searched the internet and then found the address of this foundation. It then took me three months to take the first step,” says Roos. “In the end I called them. It was so nice to talk about your grief in an equal way.”

Name recognition and financial resources. The foundation struggles with that. In some municipalities they are listed for free in the municipal guide, in other municipalities they have to pay for them. “That runs into the hundreds of euros. We don’t have that,” explains treasurer Kluin.

The women also appreciate a contribution from the municipalities for coffee mornings and meeting days, but there too the policy differs greatly between municipalities. “We have to approach each municipality separately. And then they ask: ‘How many suicides have there been in this municipality?’ Then we are dumbfounded. Just arrange it. Because we want to prevent relatives from not being able to come to us because they don’t have the financial resources.”