St. Cloud Support Group to Connect Families Struggling with Homicide
A St. Cloud woman organizes a support group for families of homicide and suicide victims.
Creator Lexi Amador said she started the group, called Families of Homicide and Suicide Victims Support, after the murder of her uncle in 2015 and that of her father, Anastacio, in November. She plans to start holding meetings virtually the third week of August and would eventually like to have a physical space for them as well.
Amador moved to St. Cloud around 2019 from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and lives in the city with her fiancé and son. She was living in St. Cloud when her father died in Albuquerque after being shot outside his home. Her murder in 2021 was the reason she wanted to start the support group, Amador said.
“Grieving is hard enough on its own, but when it’s caught in another’s hands, it’s just different,” Amador said. “And that’s additional trauma.”
Amador searched for resources for herself but struggled to find any that were specific to her type of grief.
“I have a few friends, but I don’t really have a big support system here,” she said. “Most of my family are over 2,000 miles away and I try to see them as much as possible, but it’s just hard enough. − feeling alone, being alone when you’re also going through a traumatic loss like this .”
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Amador said she wanted to be an advocate for others as well as a voice for her father and uncle. She included the loss by suicide in the support group because of its similar suddenness and feels it is important to focus on mental health.
“I just want to be a support person,” Amador said. “I want to make sure they’re not alone. I want people to have another resource they can turn to when they’re going through such a tough time in their lives. It’s absolutely life changing and it changes everything. . Your point of view, everything.”
How can support groups like this help friends and families?
Everytown for Gun Safety, a national gun violence prevention organization, has a support network for survivors of gun violence, according to its website. In Minnesota, the nonprofit Survivor Resources organizes peer-led support groups for people who have lost someone to homicide, suicide, accidental death and overdose. The nonprofit has groups in St. Louis Park, Forest Lake and North St. Paul, which also has a Spanish-speaking group, and often works with the Twin Cities Police Department to reach out to those affected. by a homicide.
Survivor Resources also provides links to resources and moral support as people navigate the court process after a homicide.
Often people who need to seek help don’t feel comfortable doing so because of the stigma, so the organization tries to reach people through therapists’ offices, churches and funeral homes, Toni Plante said.
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Having peer-led groups provides participants with opportunities to share first-hand experiences and resources that have helped them with others going through similar situations, Plante said. Support groups were just what Plante needed after her daughter died by suicide in 2016.
“There was nothing better for me than that,” Plante said.
Take steps to start the support group
Amador has launched a GoFundMe for the support group, which will be free to attend. She plans to use the funds raised for potential costs related to launching support for homicide families and suicide victims and is considering registering it as a non-profit organization. Additional profits will be donated to Everytown for Gun Safety.
Amador said she thought about having a support group for a while after her uncle died, but her father’s death was a big turning point when she knew she had to do something. She is working on reaching out to the community in the St. Cloud area to see what need there is for the support group and would like to eventually expand it to more places and help more people. She said she felt like talking about her dad, whom she described as the best dad in the world, giving her some relief.
“Personally, for me, I love talking about my dad,” Amador said. “It makes him more real, but it brings him back in a way. I feel like when I talk about him, of course I miss him, but I mean, like I said, I I just feel like he’s there, it’s his presence. It’s my dad and not the person who left.”
To learn more about supporting homicide families and suicide victims, email Amador at [email protected] or contact us via Facebook at facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083326855974.
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, suicidal thoughts or addictions, call, text or chat:
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988 and 988lifeline.org
BlackLine: 800-604-5841 and call blackline.com
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860 and translifeline.org
Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 800-273-8255 and press 1 to speak to someone or text 838255 to connect with a VA responder. You can also start a confidential Veterans Crisis Chat online chat session at Veteranscrisisline.net