Mary Ellen Carpenter ran the local Survivors of Suicide support group through the Crozer Chester Medical Center. This group began in 1987 after Mary Ellen lost her son, Chris, to suicide and there was nothing available in the area to assist with this grief. With assistance from a group in Philadelphia, she began her own SOS (Surviors of Suicide) support group. This began as one women's way to cope with her grief and has now expanded to groups in the 5 surrounding counties, as well as in Southern New Jersey!!
She has helped thousands of survivors in many ways. She was the president of SOS, Inc. and has made a tremendous impact in post-vention work with her story, determination, and will to make a difference.
Mary Ellen was also a founding board member with the Philadelphia AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). There was no chapter in the Philadelphia area, which meant there were no local conferences for survivors. Mary Ellen helped start this chapter and was co-coordinator of the first Survivors of Suicide conference in Philadelphia in 1996. She was also one of the founders of our county Task Force, which started out with three survivors and has blossomed into a county wide Task Force with over 100 members! The Task Force now consists of representatives from a majority of the county agencies, all the local crisis units, many of the mental health providers, and survivors. The Task Force has made major strides in the county on reducing the stigma associated with suicide, increasing awareness, preventive efforts, and post-vention work. The Task Force held its 4th annual conference "Suicide is a Community Problem: Let's Talk About It" in November 2007 at Villanova University, which Mary Ellen spoke and led a panel discussion. This conference was attended by over 200 people. Mary Ellen was on the Executive Committee of the task force, as well as the program and events committee.
Mary Ellen was a co-author for a paper titled "Suicide and Stigma" which was published in the Academic Psychiatry’s Journal fall 2007 issue. She has done so much in the area of suicide to make a difference that we cannot report them all. All of her work came out of her pain and will to help others.
In 2008, Mary Ellen passed away and, as a family, we decided to keep her commitment going. As a result, we created this foundation to bring awareness to the importance of talking about Suicide and to help those affected by it.