GREAT FALLS - A suicide survivor can be described as someone who has been affected by or lost a loved one to suicide.
Owen Robinson of Great Falls knows that experience. He lost his father to suicide. Since his loss, Owen has journeyed through many emotions and grief.
“Oh my father was just a great guy, a good businessman, and a very ethical person,” Robinson said. “He was 87 years old when he chose to take his life, and it was absolutely devastating to me. He was my mentor. Still is my mentor in fact.”
August 8, 2001, is a day Robinson will never forget, and a day that would forever change him.
“It was a horrible day because the day before he actually told me he thought maybe the solution was suicide. Blew me away," he said. "I was with him the entire day, and talked to him, and I thought I had calmed him down. At the end of the day he promised me he would not do that, and then the next morning he did do that.”Robinson said at first he was disappointed and felt his father had lied to him, but he later realized that wasn't the case.
He explained, “(There were) things inside him that he couldn’t deal with, didn’t make him think correctly. It was his way to cope with the things he couldn’t cope with any more. It took me a long time to realize that.”
Robinson said busyness of life along with many responsibilities kept him from confronting the loss for a long time.
"....eventually I had to face it. And it was so devastating and so encompassing. It was very difficult think straight, or work, or do anything," he said.
He was motived to do something so others wouldn't have to walk alone. Robinson started the "Life After Suicide" group through Benefis Peace Hospice. The free, 10-week program is held twice a year specifically for those who've lost someone to suicide.
“There are two components of that loss that are different than other losses. There’s always a feeling of guilt. The person left behind somehow thinks, and usually unfoundedly, they think they’re the reason, they should’ve known, they should’ve been able to stop it. That’s what I thought. Secondly, there’s a stigma behind suicide. So if you lost somebody to suicide, you don’t really want to talk about it to anybody because it’s a stigma,” explained Robinson.
Robinson hopes to provide a place to break down stigma, and give those who've lost a loved one to suicide a chance to process their loss, and gain resources to regain their own lives.
“I hope they take away, cause I’m really talking to the people left behind, I hope they recognize they weren’t at fault, and that they need help, or probably need help to get their lives back,” Robinson said.
Robinson explained, “For those contemplating suicide, you have to think of, you may think there’s nobody in the world that loves you, but I can assure you that if you’re gone to suicide, there’s going to be people hurting for years and years and years.”
If you or someone you know has lost someone to suicide, call the Benefis Peace Hospice at (406) 455-3040 to get more information or sign up for the “Life After Suicide” group.