These two mothers lost their daughters to suicide. They now run support groups

Kalia Roberts, with a poem she wrote before her death (Southside Daily/ Courtesy of Elaine Roberts)
Kalia Roberts, with a poem she wrote before her death (Southside Daily/ Courtesy of Elaine Roberts)

It’s a word that means a plethora of emotions for those left: Suicide.

In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. And local schools, at times, have to deal with the aftermath of student suicide, whatever reason may have led to that.

While the schools offer grief counseling to all students, what happens to the parents who lost their son or daughter?

Where do they go for support?

Still standing

In Virginia Beach, another mother grappled with the loss of her daughter.

Elaine Robert’s daughter, Kalia, was a 9th grader at Cox High School when she took her life in 2005.

Kalia was Elaine’s only child. She was 15 years old.

The last thing Kalia’s therapist told Elaine was Kalia had suicide “ideation” but told her Kalia was not suicidal at this time.

“She was artistic, she was funny,” said Elaine, a fourth grade teacher at St. Matthews School. “There was nothing the child couldn’t do. The only thing Kalia couldn’t do was live.”

Elaine founded the Still Standing: Surviving Suicide support group after her minister at Spring Branch Church told her she needed to find a redemptive value for the loss of Kalia.

“If you’re drawn to do something, you really don’t have a choice, you just do it,” Elaine said.

Elaine said survivors of suicide are a high risk of taking their lives, noting there is a stigma to suicide and while people are trying to be helpful, they aren’t.

“Just say ‘I’m sorry’. ‘I’m so sorry, I want to help’,” Elaine said. “Bring over food, take out the trash. Please don’t say to us they are in a better place right now.”

And most importantly, don’t try and figure out how the person took his or her life.

While many people who take their lives suffer from depression, not everyone who is depressed will take their life, experts said.

However, those who are depressed and are considering suicide need to reach out and ask for help.

“People feel like they are killing their pain what they don’t realize they are passing their pain along to others,” Elaine said.

Survivor

In Williamsburg, Charlotte Moyler runs Williamsburg Survivors of Suicide Loss, a support group focused on supporting those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Moyler’s daughter Maggie took her life in 2011.

Maggie was 17 years old.

Maggie was a senior at Jamestown High School and died just two weeks after taking her senior photos, Charlotte said.

After Maggie’s death, Charlotte, a marketing professional for a real estate company, leaned on her faith, family, friends and a grief counselor and spent her time with “people who weren’t scared of her.”

“I was a nightmare,” she said of the stigma. “A mother whose daughter killed herself.”

She started the group with the help of Allison Delaney, a former chaplain at the Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg, who asked Charlotte to form a group in 2012.

Maggie Moyler, 17 died on September 13, 2011 (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Charlotte Moyler)
Maggie Moyler, 17 died on September 13, 2011 (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Charlotte Moyler)

“I’m trying to honor my daughter’s death by using it to make a difference,” Chartlotte said. “I’d really like her back but I can’t. I want to make every day count.”

At the group, people are free to speak and just listen.

And most of all, help each other.

“Suicide should be something we talk about,” Charlotte said. “We have to talk about it. We want to erase the stigma and we are not ashamed that our loved ones died from suicide. Nobody is meant to go through this alone.”

Help

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Williamsburg Survivors of Suicide Loss meets on the first Thursday of each month from 7 p.m. to 87: 30 p.m. at the Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg, 4445 Powhatan Parkway. One-on-one sessions are available. For more information, call Charlotte Moyler at 757-903-1641.

Still Standing: Surviving Suicide Support Group meets on the second Tuesday of every month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Spring Branch Community Church, 1500 N. Great Neck Road. A First Colonial Psychotherapy therapist if always present. For more information, call Elaine Roberts at 757-464-9289.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.