The Founding Mothers of Survivors of Suicide
(SOS) started in October 1982, after the conclusion of the Fox River Valley Conference on Suicide held at Aurora College in Aurora, Illinois.
Eight people were in attendance at the first SOS meeting. Today, people continue to join us for our monthly meetings, and the mailing list for the SOS newsletter, mayday, continues to grow.
SOS Retrospective and Invitation
by Stephanie Weber
I don’t think I can improve on my feelings from other years. SOS grows and moves forward. God bless us all.
I quote from one of our own, Evelyn Roberts, when I say, “membership in this group comes with a stiff membership requirement.”
The price for membership in SOS is too high. None of us would have been willing to pay the price if we’d been given that choice. The “dues” to join SOS are not measured in dollars and cents: the dues are measured in the loss of a life and our attempts to make sense out of that loss.
• On May 28, 1979, Christopher Ward, age 24, was found dead from hanging. He left behind his parents and five brothers and sisters.
• On September 5, 1979, Ellen Weber, age 61, was found dead as the result of ingesting an overdose of medication. She left behind two daughters and six grandchildren.
• On December 15, 1979, Sheryl Smith, age 20, was found dead from hanging. She left behind her parents and a sister.
• On May 19, 1980, Krista Babel, age 17, was found dead as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning. She left behind her parents and four brothers and sisters.
• On November 11, 1980, David Sible, age 24, was found dead as the result of ingesting an overdose of medication. He left behind his wife, his parents, and one brother.
• On December 28, 1980, Valerie Berger, age 17, was found dead as the result of ingesting an overdose of medication. She left behind her parents and three sisters.
• On September 4, 1981, Debbie Schlapp, age 22, was found dead as the result of ingesting an overdose of medication. She left behind her parents and a brother.
• On December 12, 1981, Lynn Ann Luettich, age 24, was found dead as the result of a gunshot wound to the head. She left behind her parents and five brothers and sister.
It has been years since eight of us joined forces and held that first SOS meeting on October 26, 1982. Five had lost daughters, one a son, one a husband, and one a mother. All had taken their own lives; they died by their own hand; they died by suicide. Not one of those women would have chosen to pay the dues to be part of that group.
They did choose, however, to exercise their rights as a part of the group. They came together out of a need, out of a bond that formed at a suicide conference. Though membership in the group was thrust upon them, they decided to take what was left of their shattered lives and see if, in sharing their pain, they could heal.
More than 30 later, there are meeting nights when our circle of chairs seems to be almost pushing out the walls of the meeting room. View our VIDEO here.