In one life-altering instant, Paula Field-Nichols was faced with the unbelievable.
On Dec. 13, 2010, her 14-year-old . Nichols was a freshman at that year.
For Field-Nichols, this was the third time a family member had committed suicide. One of the others was her mother.
“It took a while to figure it all out (after Stephen’s death),” Field-Nichols said. “There are good days and there are bad days. It’s not something you’ll ever get over. It just becomes a part of you. It’s something you have to live with.”
And because Field-Nichols has to live with this tragedy, and knows so many others have the same pain, she’s decided to do something about it.
The Washington Township resident will launch a suicide survivors support group on Wednesday, June 6, to be held at Trinity Church in Hackettstown. The group will meet the first Wednesday of each month, from 7 to 9 p.m., and will be led by Field-Nichols.
“I’m not really a public speaker, and this is out of the ordinary for me,” Field-Nichols said. “But it’s something that has to be done. We need to help each other.”
In the past 18 months, Field-Nichols has attended various support groups, but said there are none in the area to serve residents in western Morris and Warren counties.
“Anyone who has lost someone (to suicide) is welcome to come,” she said. “Most of us don’t have a reason why these things have happened, and that’s big for people. We need to be able to work with each other and support each other through these times.”
, his mom said. He took piano lessons as a child and was teaching himself how to play guitar. He liked to swim and had even created his own dog-walking business.
There were no signs of him ever considering doing the unthinkable, she said.
“I spoke with him earlier that day,” Field-Nichols said. “He was happy.”
In the aftermath of the incident, a strong support group of family and friends helped Field-Nichols get through the hard times.
“I fully believe it takes a village to help a person,” Field-Nichols said. “I’ve had a great support group during this process, and I want other people to have that as well. I want parents and kids to be involved, keep them talking about it. Keeping it in creates anger. So many people probably feel so isolated and they shouldn’t feel that way. This group is a place they can go to get the support they need.”
With the recent teen suicides of and Hackettstown’s Ryan Cameron–who was the final catalyst in Field-Nichols’ decision to begin the group–the tragedies, again, were hitting too close to home.
Cameron, a senior at Hackettstown High School, was considered by many as “The Voice of ShopRite” in Mansfield, where he worked part time.
“I heard him on the loud speaker the day before it happened,” she said. “Any time I heard him, I thought, what a great voice, a great personality. He always seemed so upbeat and happy.”
Many of Stephen Nichols’ friends came to his mother to give, and receive, support after their peer was gone, she said. Nearly a year and-a-half later, many still do.
“It sticks with them,” she said. “Some kids will be forever affected by this.”
Field-Nichols is searching for a professional counselor or therapist to help lead the group as it progresses, and wants to help as many people as possible.
“Whether it’s one person or 100 that show up,” she said, “people need this. I just want to help them.”
Trinity Church is located at 213 Main St. in Hackettstown. The first meeting will be held June 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the community room of the church. For more information about the meetings or for questions or comments, email email@example.com.
Field-Nichols recommends online support groups as well, including Kindness Matters, I Hate Suicide, and From Surviving to Thriving, all of which can be found on Facebook and gives people an outlet to write their thoughts and reply to others in need of support.