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National Suicide Survivor Seminar Blog


Date: October 14 , 2013

Home Page Tabs Title: Thoughts on the Upcoming National Suicide Survivor Seminar

Posted By: TAPS

Today on the TAPS blog, surviving mother Peggy Scallorn shares her thoughts about the upcoming National Suicide Survivor Seminar. Peggy writes, "I will be surrounded by those who are walking the same path of surviving a loved one's suicide.  I feel comforted knowing I will not have to explain my situation to others because we are all there for the same loss."


National Suicide Survivor Blog Picture
Thoughts on the Upcoming National Suicide Survivor Seminar

~ Peggy Scallorn, Survivor

October 14, 2013

As November approaches, so does the thought of attending the National Suicide Survivor Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I am excited to see old friends and meet new ones, but I am anxious at the same time. I attended the TAPS National Seminar in May in Washington D.C. with my family. While I was thankful to be there, sometimes I felt as if I didn't belong. Hearing others share their story of how their child died did not compare to my own loss I had suffered. The majority of those attending Nationals were those who had suffered a loss of a loved one by illness, accident or who were killed in action (KIA).You see, my 18 year old son, active duty A1C Cody Scallorn, died by suicide on January 2, 2012 while home on leave from the USAF.

The stigma that attaches itself to suicide is relentless. As I walked through the doors of the hotel in D.C., everyone, from the staff to the attendees, welcomed me and hugs were plentiful. Even with the smiles that adorned many faces, I still felt isolated in my own grief. A small number of attendees were suicide survivors compared to the vast majority of those attending. The workshops that were held were wonderful because they provided opportunities to bond in smaller groups. I felt myself ease as I attended the suicide survivor group for parents. I was among strangers who felt like longtime friends because we shared the common bond of the suicide of our children. 

I don't know what to expect going to this seminar in November, but I do know I will be surrounded by those who are walking the same path of surviving a loved one's suicide.  I feel comforted knowing I will not have to explain my situation to others because we are all there for the same loss. For me, I have experienced suicide as the elephant in the room, or as many suicide survivors refer to themselves as the zebra in the herd. The awkward looks and the loss of words from others who just don't know how to respond to the words "died by suicide." I hope by attending this seminar I will learn additional coping skills and be able to continue my healing. Having this opportunity to solely be among other suicide survivors is empowering and I am so grateful to be able to attend. 

I will also be attending the Peer Mentoring Training along with my husband while in Colorado. I am not sure what to expect in regards to this either, but I am hopeful that by becoming a peer mentor I will be able to extend my hand to others who are just starting their own grief journey. I have wanted nothing more than to help others since my son's suicide and have wanted to give back what TAPS has given to me. TAPS gave me hope. In the beginning of my loss, I didn't think that would ever be possible again. 


Hello Peggy. I attended the TAPS Suicide Survivor Seminar in San Diego last year. I was about 10 months out from losing my son to suicide. I traveled alone and was a bit anxious but I knew that I had to do something for myself. I was drowning in grief and couldn't get my feet back on the ground. Most of my days were spent in bed for those first months. I knew my son wouldn't want me to live the rest of my life like that. I had reached out to TAPS early on and no matter what or when I needed their support, they were there. I packed up and flew across the country not sure what would greet me there. All I can say is that it was the best 4 days of my life. It was amazing how we instantly became friends, some life-long friends. I met my parent mentor Penny, Kim Ruocco who I had spoken with many times, and Bonnie Carroll, the saint who started this unbelievable organization. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. The venue was absolutely beautiful, the food comforting and delicious, the programs were awesome (yes, many tear were shed but many smiles came, as well). I couldn't wait to start another day when I was out there. Something I hadn't been able to do in those long months before. As the weekend came to an end, we all said we wish we didn't have to leave. For the first time in my life, I felt an instant connection to many; the many who joined this horrible club that never wanted to join. For some reason, this time of year is particularly hard for me and for that reason I am so looking forward to the trip to Colorado next month. I don't get the chance to travel much so the trip is extra exciting. I know that for four short days, my grief will be understood by all, my strife in trying to live on will be recognized, my attempt to live life again will be rewarded. I encourage anyone who walks in my shoes to reach out to TAPS and take advantage of everything they offer. For without them, I doubt that I would be sitting here writing this right now. I look forward to meeting you and your husband and hearing about your beloved son. Take good care and see you soon.
Posted by: Jody Merrill at 10/14/2013 6:35 PM

Peggy this is so well written. I know of several other friends in my own community who suffer from the loss of a child. My heart goes out to all of you and I know support groups are helpful in healing all of us or lightening the load of grief. I pray everyday for peace and contentment during your commitment to your son to reach out to even one person that may heed your words and find solace in knowing we are all connected. You have inspired me with your courage and fight through adversity. All the mother's of these children I know are strong woman. Their children will never be forgotten. I know in my belief that they are looking down on their mother's and families feeling loved by your actions. We don't always know the reasons why things happen but we do know how to make things happen and love each other to make this world a little happier place to live in. You have a loving family and a lot of loving support. Continue your journey Peggy ~
Posted by: Kathy Leathers-Nohmy at 10/15/2013 5:56 AM

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