Family Starfish Project launches Sept. 12
by Marie Nesmith
Aug 23, 2013 | 1187 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Through the Family Starfish Project, loved ones of suicide victims will receive free curriculum-based support and the opportunity to form connections with others experiencing similar situations.

Sponsored by the Bartow Collaborative, Gordon County Family Connection and Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth, the offering will be held each Thursday, 6 to 8:30 p.m., from Sept. 12 to Oct. 17 at Adairsville Church of God. At Gordon County Family Connection’s request, Bartow Collaborative joined the multi-county effort to help launch this pilot program in Georgia.

“We just have a really great relationship with Gordon County Family Connection and because we also are neighboring counties, that’s why they chose us. So we actually were kind of chosen to do it. It wasn’t what we just took initiative to do. So it’s not necessarily one of our priorities, but it does happen to be something that I have noticed since I’ve been living here that is an issue,” said Bartow Collaborative Executive Director Tina Grubbs, referring to 19 suicide-related deaths in Bartow being reported in 2011. “We’re not sure exactly what the root cause might be, whether those individuals have mental health issues or if those individuals have economic stressers or family stressers. But we do know in this particular junction, we have seen more over the last five to 10 years than we’ve seen in previous years and that’s pretty much statewide, that’s just not us.

“I think for some individuals ... some communities have noticed there’s not necessarily a strong partnership for those families and trauma-focused therapy is really becoming a way that some of our counselors are working with families, especially those that are coming out of the military as well as [families of those who have committed] suicide. ... Yes, [the survivors] do have linkages to church and they have linkages to some therapy, but they really don’t have a strong focused curriculum and that’s what this provides.”

During the six-week sessions, groups will be facilitated by trained volunteers and professionals from the three-county area. Serving as the facilitator for the 4 1/2- to 6-year-old group, Liz Fox believes it is important to provide support to families who may feel isolated in their grief.

“There’s groups [for] every age level and we all talk about the same thing, only in a different way,” said Fox, family advocate for the Children’s Advocacy Center in Cartersville. “You’re going to talk to 4 1/2-year-olds a lot differently than you’re going to talk to teenagers. So, for instance, the subject may be fairness, or actually lack of fairness, and so we’ll read a story to talk about that and it’s all scripted.

“... Typically, somebody that may have experienced this may not be real comfortable going to just a grief support group because it’s rare and it’s a much more difficult kind of loss. So to be able to be around people and families, for kids to talk to other kids who’ve experienced the same thing is really important, for parents as well. But the other thing that this does is since you’re all working on the same subject matter at the same time but in different ways, it allows for your family to come together and talk about it and share. It opens up discussion.”

For more information or to register, contact Grubbs at bartowcollaborative@gmail.com or 678-719-2041. Those wanting to attend the Family Starfish Project sessions need to sign up prior to the initial meeting.