The logo of Sunrise After Suicide, left, and Tessa and Matt Holyoak. | Courtesy Facebook, Matt Holyoak
REXBURG — A husband and wife are hoping to help others with a nonprofit they created to assist families in the aftermath of a suicide, after going through the trial themselves.
The foundation is called “Sunrise After Suicide” and was created by husband and wife duo Matt and Tessa Holyoak.
There will be a grand opening event on Friday, July 14, for the online foundation in Rexburg. It’s free to attend and will be at the Porter Park carousel from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Holyoaks will be there to let people know more about Sunrise After Suicide, why it started, how they help those in need, and how others can make a difference.
The creation of the foundation comes after Matt’s life changed in May of last year. His mom, Kathrine Holyoak, took her life. She was 55 years old at the time. The aftermath of her death left him overwhelmed with grief, heartache and pain.
Matt’s mother, Kathrine Holyoak. | Courtesy Matt Holyoak
“She had been dealing with some issues in the last year. My dad called us up and told us the news that she took her life and it was really obviously devastating and really hard to hear and work through the initial thoughts that were going on,” Holyoak recalls.
Kathrine lived in Rexburg with her husband and had four kids, including Matt. She loved being in the sun, biking, running and being around friends. She served on the local school and library boards.
“Some of my best moments and memories with her was (being in the) outdoors and just doing the things that we all love doing as family,” Holyoak said of his mom.
When she passed away, it was hard for Holyoak and his family. Everyone gathered at his father’s house and tried to take it one step at a time to figure out what came next. He said it launched them into a whole new world that they’d never seen before.
Matt and his mother Kathrine. | Courtesy Matt Holyoak
“Funeral homes and understanding how finances work for funerals…the mental health side of it was big. Another thing that was interesting was all the outreach that I had from friends and family and you could tell there was so many well-intentioned people who really wanted to try and figure out what they could possibly do to help,” Holyoak said.
The tragic experience then led Holyoak and his wife to try and provide help to others who have been through the same trial.
Sunrise After Suicide officially began in May of this year and serves the mountain west region. Matt and Tessa currently live in Logan, Utah and provide services online. They have already been able to help families in Idaho and Colorado.
Holyoak says there are three primary focuses regarding Sunrise After Suicide. One focus includes funeral-related financial aid. According to the website, “Many people lack sufficient savings to cover the costs of a funeral, and life insurance policies don’t always cover suicides. To address this issue, the Sunrise After Suicide Foundation gives what we can to help ease the financial burden.”
Another focus is mental health resources. Sunrise After Suicide offers free access to premium mental health resources. The foundation has partnered with Impact Suite, a mental health company which provides aid to individuals experiencing grief.
The final focus includes peer education. Holyoak mentioned he received numerous well-intentioned messages from others after his mom passed away. He learned that many people wanted to help but were unsure of how. Sunrise After Suicide provides suggestions and ways to support those who are grieving.
“It’s more of the, ‘Here’s how you can talk to these people and here’s things that you might want to avoid.’ If someone says they don’t want help, maybe that’s exactly what they want,” Holyoak explained.
He said Sunrise After Suicide is not a prevention foundation but rather a ‘postvention’ organization, meaning everything they do is for helping people in the aftermath of a suicide. They support prevention work but there are a lot of great organizations already out there leading the way, Holyoak said.
Sunrise After Suicide is like an analogy Holyoak added.
“The world seems pretty dark sometimes, especially when some of these things are going on but we just wanted to kind of give the hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and you can overcome some of this stuff,” he said.
He has made a lot of progress since his mother’s passing and says he is learning to live with what happened. Starting the nonprofit has been a way that he has had some recovery.
“Connecting with other people who are going through the same thing and kind of having a community where I know these people have dealt with the same trial and just being able to give back and help out, has been really helpful to me in my life,” he said.
He hopes that people will be able to come to Porter Park next week and learn about Sunrise After Suicide and the ways the nonprofit can provide support.
Grand Opening event information in Rexburg. | Courtesy Sunrise After Suicide
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