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Expert to explore suicide prevention, grief
Stephen Ministry event scheduled for Thursday
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Forsyth County News

At a glance
The Stephen Ministry Network of Forsyth County will hold a presentation by Iris Bolton, a leading counseling expert, at 7 p.m. Thursday in Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1125 Bettis Tribble Gap Road. The event is free and open to the entire community.

 A Roswell resident will tell her story of loss and hope Thursday during an event sponsored by the Forsyth County Stephen Ministry Network.

Iris Bolton, director emeritus of The Link Counseling Center in Sandy Springs, said she lost her second son to suicide in 1977.

"I'll be sharing my personal story," Bolton said. "I find when I can do that others feel more free to express their concerns."

The counseling expert will also be discussing stress, depression, grief and suicide intervention, prevention and aftercare during her presentation, which is free and open to anyone.

The event will include a 30-minute question-and-answer session.

"We want people to feel safe enough to ask questions," Bolton said. "We want it to be an educational experience of hope and healing."

Bolton was one of four founders of The Link Counseling Center in 1971. In 1973, she became director, a position she held until her retirement in 2007.

She has also authored books about suicide prevention and still works as a speaker "all over the world."

Kathy Jolly is a member of the Stephen Ministry Network, a group of six churches that provides the community outreach ministry.

Jolly said the group wanted to bring in Bolton for the presentation since stress and grief are issues the ministers often face in their work.

"It's very timely right now. It's been a very stressful three years," she said. "The financial climate has been so tough it's stressed many people maybe to the point of attempting suicide."

Regardless of whether anyone has felt the effects of suicide, Jolly said dealing with grief is of universal importance.

"We work with people all the time who are grieving, maybe not because of suicide, maybe they've just lost someone due to natural causes," Jolly said.

"So we felt it would be important for us to help the community learn more about grief and how to deal with it."

Bolton said the event will also feature resources for people to use after the session.

"We want people to know where to go to get more help," she said. "We don't want it to be a gloomy, doomy type of thing, but we will need to address the elephant in the room."