In 1989, after the suicide death of her son, Virginia Bender sought support groups to aid in her grief recovery. She discovered that there were no organizations in the greater Portland Oregon area that were specific to suicide. Virginia began to reach out to other support organizations expressing a desire to meet with others that had such a tragedy occur in their lives – not only children, but any member of a family or close friend that had experienced a suicide.
She began hosting support meetings in her home and as information of the group was proclaimed to other organizations – including crisis lines, psychologists, grief support organizations, religious affiliations and other groups – the number of people attending grew. A second meeting group materialized in Vancouver, WA, as a result. By the end of the year, Virginia had organized a group of volunteers to aid in the publication of a newsletter that helped in the continued growth of supporting others that had experienced the death of a loved one to suicide.
By 1991, a core of volunteers discussed the option of applying for a non-profit status. The name of Suicide Bereavement Support was agreed to and the volunteer group applied for and received their 501(c)(3) status by 1992. From 1992 through 2000, additional support group locations were added. A total of 6 support groups were active – NE Portland, Tigard/Beaverton, Astoria, Gresham, Oregon City and Vancouver, WA.
Due to attrition, sickness and other factors, the organization’s participation began to decrease. The organization's non-profit status was not renewed. Still, a core group offered meetings.
In late 2010, the group reached out to other professionals and created a new board. By late 2011, the volunteers were able to have the status of a non-profit organization reestablished.
The volunteer organization is now comprised of professionals in many disciplines. Both legal and financial groundwork has been established, goals and directives created, financial grants and aid applied for, additional facilitation training created, and meeting places and times added to help those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Suicide Bereavement Support, Inc., is moving ahead to spread the word of our mission. Help us help others by volunteering for our desire to aid others in their grief process.