Monday, October 25, 2021

Survivors of Suicide Closes, Impact Mental Health Opens

 By Bixyl Shuftan

On Saturday October 23, the Survivors of Suicide, probably the best known depression support group in Second Life, had it's last meeting. It was a week before in which it's leader and owner of it's sim, Sebastien Bouevier, announced that the group would soon be closing. Sebastien cited a need to focus more on real-life and no one else stepping forward whom could run the group for long.

The meeting started at 3 SL time. The various people there thanked the others for helping them through difficult times, some telling detailed stories. There were also a few lines in group chat. Among them, "... we are just starting a new chapter, not closing the book."

Sebastien himself would only speak near the end:

"Hearing all your stories tonight has been very touching, and has really hit home just how much of a difference SOS has made to so many lives over the past 13 years. I hope you will continue to be there for each other and keep the spirit of SOS going for years to come. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be a part of this. I love you all."

The meeting ended at 4PM, and people began to slowly leave, some TPing out, others getting one last look at the island. Shortly after came the dreading DING! and screen shaking signaling a sim restart countdown. But logging back on, I was in a different sim, and was unable to teleport back to the Survivors of Suicide sim. It was closed. I was also no longer able to check the group for any chat messages. 

While the Survivors of Suicide group may be gone, another was started to take it's place: Impact Mental Health by Kitten Stratten-Jaks (Kitten Meridoc). 

We know this is a sad time for many of you, but we'd like to extend a heartfelt welcome to all of our new members.

This week, the focus is on SOS and saying goodbye and so Impact may be quieter than we expect it to become. We're also working on populating the group, so please have a little patience.

In the mean time, keep an eye out for notices about our opening day! We're really excited to show you what we're putting together for you guys.

Welcome to Impact our new warriors.

The group soon had a location, on Urban Dream, and an opening event was planned for Sunday October 24.

Join us for the Grand Opening of Impact Mental Health; a Peer Support group right here in Second Life. Offering Information, Mentoring, Group Chat and Support Meetings throughout the week. Come visit our brand new location. The Impact Community are here and we're listening.

The event, hosted by Sherridon Mercury,  was scheduled to start at Noon SL time. But people were arriving early. Dropping by, I was complemented about my appearance. She confirmed about the group being created in response to the closing of the SoS, "we wanted to give the people some support and some familiarity after that news." 

We were next to the main building. Besides Kitten and Sherridon, there were six mentors as group staff. Sherridon was greeting people, "Hello and welcome to all those just joining us, we will be kicking off our celebrations with a liver performance from Ugly Bill at the top of the hour! In the meantime, feel free to get acquainted with our new land and new organization!."

Eventually, Noon approached, and people were invited to head to the dance area in a nearby part of the sim. "Ugly Bill" soon got on stage and started performing while the audience danced away.  "We're so thrilled to have you here at the grand opening of Impact Mental Health!" people were told as they arrived.

Besides that many were at the party, the Impact group chat also saw a lot of chatter that day. Some would talk about their real-life issues. Others would say they were happy and relieved there was still a mental health support group for them.

There are also other mental health support groups around in Second Life. And someone messaged me in IM that she was starting still another. So for those who know where to look, mental health support groups are still around.

It's been spoken before that the only thing that's constant is that there is change. And in a virtual world, even more so. A valued mental health support group has closed after thirteen years. But in it's place, a new one has arisen, one that has had a good start.

Bixyl Shuftan

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