Two Bismarck men start a peer support group to help people struggling with suicidal thoughts

A suicide support group is now in Bismarck after two friends said it was their experiences that made them want to help others.

Design Tattoo Inked owner and artist, Randy Drown, and his store manager, Byron, have planned a special on suicide prevention.

Each person was given a semicolon, which represents suicidal ideation, it means pause, instead of following.

“I did 300 tattoos in 3 weeks. We were overwhelmed with the response. And so 300 tattoos is 300 different stories I heard while I was tattooing. Talking to clients,” Drown shared .

It was the impact on them that made them realize they needed to do more.

They realized that in every story, a common factor was missing, peer support.

“The message we are trying to convey is that you are not alone. There are so many people suffering from the same affliction and talking about it. Especially in my own life, talking about it and being upfront about it takes away some of the power of the disease or the affliction,” Drown explained.

The guys have teamed up with the North Dakota Suicide Prevention Coalition which says North Dakota has seen the biggest increase in suicides than any other state.

“So suicide rates have actually increased by 58% since 1999. And since COVID, we know that more and more people have reached out for suicide lifelines,” explained Alison Traynor, co-founder and therapist. in Mental Health for North Dakota Suicide Prevention. Coalition.

Traynor says studies have shown that peer support is more effective in suicide intervention.

The hope with this new group is to bring a level of comfort.

“We made popsicle sticks with different emotions, words and feelings. Thus, we could choose a stick which would become the subject of the meeting. And then we go around one by one and either share on the topic or just your personal story right now. Or where you are right now,” Drown explained.

The group is open to anyone seeking suicide-related support, whether they have struggled themselves or know others who have.

They meet every Monday at Serenity Place in Bismarck.

Virginia S. Braud