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This photo, submitted by the Thorne family, shows Matthew and his siblings a few days before his 18th birthday.
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Utah Family Finds Hope After Losing Son To Suicide

LAYTON, Utah – Too many Utah families know the unimaginable grief of losing a loved one to suicide.

A Layton couple lost their son one year ago. Navigating that grief takes community and support.

Trina and Ken Thorne cherish photos of their son, Matthew. He was a popular, straight-A student who was adored by his siblings.

“People said, ‘Gosh he’s going to be such a great leader. There’s so much he’s gonna do,’” Trina said.

But life took a turn for the worse.

“We started to notice during the last semester of his ninth-grade year, his grades dropped a little bit,” Ken said.

Despite their best efforts, including hospitalization, Matthew continued to suffer from clinical depression that only worsened.

“There were days we slept on his floor,” Trina said. “You do everything you can to keep them alive. And that’s the battle that you go through.”

They lost Matthew to suicide a few days before his 18th birthday.

Through Facebook, Ken and Trina have found other couples who lost their children to suicide. Forming relationships with them and providing mutual support has led to healing.

“They create this big vessel, this open space to share any story, any expression of emotion, and it’s so respectful,” said Leigh Ann Morse, licensed clinical social worker and bereavement clinical coordinator at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Therapists say grief is unique. The key is not giving up until you find that salve.

“It could be talking to someone, it could be lighting a candle. It could be visiting the cemetery or planting a tree. It could be hosting a fun run,” Morse said.

And friends and family of those who are grieving can help by listening.

“We, as supporters, need to remember that no matter what, there’s nothing we can say that’s going to make them feel better other than giving them an opportunity to share the story,” Morse said.

For Ken and Trina, learning to live without Matthew is a daily battle.

“There’s a peace that comes in knowing that you’ve done everything for them, love them immensely, but you can’t take away an illness,” Trina said. “You can only give them everything that they have.”

Through community, they’re finding hope. Nov. 23 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, a day when those affected by suicide can join together to find support. To find an even near you visit afsp.org.