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Quilt remembers the faces and lives of family members lost to suicidecomment (0)

August 10, 2000

By Greg Heyman

Quilt remembers the faces and lives of family members lost to suicide

By Greg Heyman

The Alabama Baptist

The quilt recalls memories of family members by brokenhearted survivors who still grieve over their loss.

The father eulogized in a poem by his son.

A husband who loved to fly.

The son who cherished his dog.

Hanging on a wall of the Crisis Center in Birmingham, the quilt — put together by Survivors of Suicide (SOS) — is a hodgepodge that pays homage to the lives of those lost to suicide. The quilt contains everything from pictures of the deceased to personal information about them.

Shaped like the state of Alabama, the quilt includes patches celebrating the lives of suicide victims from across the state and is not unlike quilts by suicide survivors groups in several states.

“It’s called a memory quilt and we’re not the only SOS group who has one,” said M.D. Thomason, who lost his 50-year-old son to suicide Aug. 3, 1996. “When we attended a national suicide conference in Washington two years ago, there were 29 states that brought quilts, and they were displayed on the Capitol steps (in Washington, D.C.),” Thomason said.

Beyond paying tribute to their loved ones, survivors said the quilts have also been used at presentations in Washington, where families have requested that Congress allocate more money for the study of the causes of suicide.

“I think this serves several purposes,” said Kathy Moore, whose son Steve, 30, killed himself April 24, 1998. “No. 1 is to let the world know that we have not forgotten them, and we will not forget them.

“Also, to get the extra funding to maybe prevent this from happening to other people,” she added, “because suicide is on the rise — it’s a big, big problem and we don’t have enough funds to do the research.”

Nancy Reeder’s son Jason took his life Aug. 13, 1994, when he was 24. Reeder said the importance of researching suicide cannot be ignored, pointing out it is the No. 1 or No. 2 killer among some age groups.

“This quilt gives the faces of suicide,” said Thomason’s wife, Jeanette. “It brings alive the fact that these people have taken their lives.”

Beyond that, family members said the quilt also brings home the stark reality of suicide.

“They all look normal and we want the world to see that, that they were just normal — it can happen to anybody,” Moore said.

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