Joanne L Harpel, Mphil, CT, JD
suicide bereavement & Postvention specialist
Support group Faq's
What makes Coping After Suicide's groups unique?
Every single group is facilitated by a hand-picked member of our Support Group Facilitator Corps. We're all long-term survivors of suicide loss ourselves -- we personally know the pain and questions and complexity of losing someone we love to suicide. But we're also highly skilled professionals with decades of support group facilitation and training experience, and a wealth of knowledge about suicide and suicide bereavement. Empathy meets expertise.
How big are the groups?
Most have between 8-10 people.
What if the group I want is full?
Groups are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. If the one you'd like to join is already full for this cycle, you may find the support you're looking for in one of our other offerings. Please contact us and we'll explore it with you, and help you figure it out.
Are they “drop-in” or “closed” groups?
They’re “closed,” which means the same group of people stay together for the ten-session cycle, creating the opportunity for a deep, rich experience and a strong sense of connection and community. Members often develop friendships through the group and stay in touch outside of meetings.
Will the things I share in the meetings be kept confidential?
In order for the group to feel emotionally safe, everyone needs to trust that what they share will be kept confidential and that everyone will be respectful of one another’s privacy.
Is there a curriculum?
The facilitator always has a structure and topics in mind for each meeting and sometimes there will be journaling or other exercises to do in between meetings, but it’s not like taking a course, there isn’t a “curriculum” per se.
My loss is very new – should I wait before joining a group?
Not necessarily - most people tend to join between about two months and four years from their loss, but we’ve had people join within a couple of weeks and others join when it’s been a decade or more. We encourage you to ask yourself three things: Am I ready to talk about my loss? Will I be comfortable sharing the group’s airtime? How will it feel to hear other people’s stories? If you’re not sure, no worries - we have new groups starting throughout the year so we’ll be here whenever you’re ready.
How should I decide which group to register for?
Trust your gut. Some people lean towards a group based on relationship loss (like Adults Who’ve Lost a Parent). Others want to be with their demographic (like Twentysomethings or LGBTQIA+).
Even when everyone in the group shares certain things in common, there will be always a diversity of individual experiences. It’s understandable to want to seek comfort in the familiar, but our experience has been that often the most profound support ends up coming from the most unexpected source. Once you’ve decided which group feels right, just email that group’s facilitator to set up a brief intake conversation.
Why is an intake conversation required before registering?
Sharing personal, vulnerable thoughts and feelings in a group setting isn't always easy. We want to make a personal connection with you, answer any questions you might have, and explore whether the timing feels right for you to share your experience and, importantly, be present to other people sharing theirs. Because it’s a closed group, we do our best to make sure the fit feels right all around.
Can I try a meeting and then decide if I want to do the whole cycle?
It's not uncommon for new members to feel unsure or uncomfortable after the first meeting. For some, opening up about their loss is surprisingly hard, especially at first. Others look around the group and question whether they belong, or “fit in.” But it's important to recognize the discomfort, lean into it, come back anyway, and trust the process, because everyone is in the same situation. Coping After Suicide® groups are powerful because everyone is “all-in” for the cycle. Your mutual commitment to one another is critical to creating the trust that's essential for the overall well-being of the group. It's for this reason that the registration fee can’t be refunded or partially prorated.
What if I join one group and then decide I’d rather try a different one?
It’s not possible to “mix and match” between meetings within a cycle, but you can absolutely try a different group for the next cycle.
What if I have to miss a meeting?
Not a problem. While the goal is for everyone to attend every meeting in the cycle, we realize that life can get life-y, and sometimes you need to miss a meeting (or two). Just please understand that the registration fee can’t be prorated or partially refunded.
Can more than one family member be in the same group?
Up to two members of the same family can be in a group together but we encourage you to consider how important it is for people who are grieving the same loss to have their own separate, safe space to share their thoughts and feelings.
If more than one family member registers for a group, is there a discounted rate?
Everyone is unique, entitled to their full share of the time, attention, and support the groups offer, regardless of whether they also have another family member in a Coping After Suicide Support Group. So everyone has their own intake conversation, and registers and pays individually.
Do you take insurance?
Because Coping After Suicide® groups aren’t therapy groups, we’re not able to take insurance and the registration fee won’t be covered by health insurance (even as an out-of-network benefit). But many group members have successfully submitted for reimbursement through their FSA or HSA accounts.
If they’re not therapy groups, why aren’t they free?
Coping After Suicide® support groups are professionally facilitated, so members receive not only the comfort of peer support, but also a wide variety of resources and strategies for coping with this uniquely complicated and painful loss, including evidence-informed psychoeducation about suicide and grief theory. We understand that cost may be an issue for some people, and there are many other excellent resources for coping with suicide loss that are free of charge.
What happens at end of the 10-session cycle?
Typically, about 75-80% of group members sign up for a subsequent cycle (some do three or four cycles), which speaks to just how meaningful and valuable they’ve found their experience to be. Current members are given access to early VIP registration and a discounted registration fee for the next cycle.
Some members decide to press pause, take a cycle or two off, and then rejoin down the road. Others find they’ve gotten what they needed or realize that the group just isn’t for them. No matter what, there is always room to warmly welcome new members at the beginning of each cycle.
I’m the survivor of a suicide attempt, can I join?
Coping After Suicide® groups are for those who are grieving the loss of someone to suicide. If you’re looking for support after a suicide attempt (or because you have a friend or family member who is suicidal or has made a suicide attempt), we recommend that you go to https://www.nami.org/Support-Education/Support-Groups or https://www.dbsalliance.org/support/chapters-and-support-groups/find-a-support-group/. We wish you all the best in your healing.
Who are the members of the Coping After Suicide® Support Group Facilitator Corps?
Franklin Cook, MA, CPC (email@example.com)
Franklin is the longtime survivor of his father’s suicide, with 20 years’ experience as a suicide bereavement support group facilitator and trainer, including for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Support Group Facilitator Training Program and the Support After a Death by Overdose Peer Grief Support Facilitator Training Program.
Joanne Harpel, MPhil, CT, JD (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Joanne is the President of Coping After Suicide. For over 20 years she has been facilitating suicide bereavement support groups and training others to do this important and meaningful work. She lost her brother Stephen to suicide in 1993.
Joan Hoff (email@example.com)
Spouses, Partners, and Significant Others
Joan spent over 30 years working with The Dougy National Center for Grieving Children and Families providing support for adults, children, teens, and families who have experienced a suicide loss. She has extensive support group facilitation experience and has trained support group facilitators nationally and internationally, including with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Her husband Larry died of suicide in 1995.
Steven Karaiskos, PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Adults Who've Lost a Parent
Steven lost his partner David to suicide a decade ago and is a Social Emotional Learning expert with extensive experience facilitating peer support groups based on principles derived from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Steven is the Senior Director of Community Education and Outreach for Samaritans, a Boston-based suicide prevention and grief support organization.
Don Lipstein, CBFRLC, ACC (email@example.com)
Don is a grief and recovery focused coaching professional who has been facilitating individual and group support for men through TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit that reaches out to families of fallen military to connect them to grief resources and care) for over 10 years. He founded Imagine Family Recovery (a life-coaching practice focused on families of loved ones in addiction) in 2020. Don lost his son Joshua to suicide in 2011.
Marianne Reid Schrom (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The survivor of her brother John's 2007 suicide, Marianne has extensive experience as a suicide bereavement support group facilitator and educator, including for the New York State Funeral Directors Association, the New York State Tribute Foundation, and LivingWorks. She is a former member of the national Loss and Bereavement Council of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Early in her career, Marianne was a high school teacher for a decade, during which time she lost more than one student to suicide.