BLACK HILLS, S.D. — A group in western South Dakota provides emotional support and resources to people who have lost a family member or a friend to suicide.

The Front Porch Coalition’s loss team is dispatched by Black Hills law enforcement to offer resources, information and comfort after a suicide.

Office Manager Joan Muller-Lyons told the Rapid City Journal that team members are sent out during a crisis or to an emergency room to offer immediate support. She said that includes waiting with the family if the person was an organ donor and helping with the death notification.

Muller-Lyons said team members are effective because they have been affected by suicide in their lives. She said the team is able to provide relatable, caring advice and support.

Muller-Lyons’s father died by suicide decades ago.

“When you lose someone, there’s a stigma,” she said. She said understanding mental illness is still difficult, but support groups like the coalition can help provide the right resources.

“Death is never easy, but suicide is unique to other forms of loss,” Muller-Lyons said. “Our team is excellent. They understand a specific aspect of loss that no one else does. People will open up to (us) when they won’t open up to anyone else.”

Team Member Sheena Hannah lost her father to suicide six years ago. She said there’s no wrong way to grieve.

“Sometimes you don’t even take it a day at a time, it’s a moment at a time,” Hannah said. “It gets easier, but it doesn’t ever go away. But it does get easier.”

Muller-Lyons said the group hopes to expand to cover more counties in the Black Hills. New members have just started covering the Northern Hills.

Information from: Rapid City Journal,

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.