MAHWAH, N.J. -- What started as a support group for parents of suicide victims with two members in November 2015 has grown to 24.
Mahwah mother Elaine Arnoldi, who started the group, said it's both sad that so many people have to deal with the issue of child loss and suicide, yet comforting at the same time.
"I feel like I have to be strong when I lead the group," she said, "But it's hard. There are a lot of conflicting emotions."
Arnoldi, who lost her son, Nick in August 2012 when he was 28, said creating the group -- which she did because nothing else existed -- can be challenging because hearing of other people's loss makes her relive her own time and time again. "I get calls all the time, not just from parents, but from teenagers who have lost a brother or sister and wonder if there's a group out there for them," she said.
Because of the stigma that exists with suicide, there are not many groups in existence, she explained. "People don't understand that suicide deaths need to be treated as a mental illness," she explained.
And, because of that, you really can't go to a 'regular' group, said Arnoldi. "A lot of education still needs to be done."
The 7 p.m. meetings run on the second Tuesday of every month at the Christian Healthcare Center on Sicomac Avenue in Wyckoff.
Arnolid is also part of a team raising awareness in memory of Nick at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk in Saddle Brook on Sunday, Oct. 25.
For information on the support group, email Elaine Arnoldi at Elaine3793@icloud.com or call (201) 819-7414.