GRCC hosts national conference for those who have lost loved ones to suicide

Nov. 7, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Grand Rapids Community College's Nursing Department has teamed up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and West Michigan Survivors of Suicide on the National Survivors of Suicide Conference on Nov. 17.

The free conference, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, 151 Fountain St. NE, will feature activities and discussions to support those who have lost a loved one to suicide, foster discussion among survivors, and explore ways to prevent suicide. Students in GRCC's Nursing program and members of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society will assist with the activities.

"For the past 12 years, GRCC Nursing students and volunteers have participated in the Survivors of Suicide Conference," said Susan Koons, an assistant professor in the Nursing program. "It's an opportunity for our students to learn firsthand about the impact of suicide in our community."

Dorace Van Meurs, clinical program director for Gilda's Club Grand Rapids, and Melissa Budzynski, a social worker for the organization, will deliver the keynote address: "Complicated Grief: The Trauma of Suicide." A panel discussion, featuring survivors of suicide, will follow. Those attending the event are encouraged to bring photos or other significant items for a memorial ceremony.

"When a loved one dies, people journey through a grief process," Koons said. "However, when a loved one dies by suicide, grief can often be very different and more complicated. The Survivors of Suicide Conference is one way that survivors can connect with each other and be supported through that grief journey."

A lunch is provided, and parking is free. To register in advance, contact David McDonald at or (616) 949-3402. You can also register from 8:30-9 a.m. on the day of the conference.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.

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