project leader
The Family of Patrick D. Butler .
410 Station Street
(Allegheny County)
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the project

In June 2020, we lost my brother, Patrick Butler, to suicide. Pat is immensely missed, and my family's experience propels this idea forward in memory and honor of him and his character. Ultimately, suicide loss survivors want their loved one to be remembered for the life they lived, not the way they died.

As we navigate our own healing journey, our family is launching “Our Black Rose” to focus on postvention services for suicide loss survivors. The black rose is a symbol of life and beauty even in darkness - and it is our sincere hope we can shine a bit of hope and light on families in their darkest hours. “Our Black Rose” would focus on families (broad definition) who have recently (within a year) lost a loved one to suicide and provide a care package. The care package includes grief support gifts and local resources in Allegheny County. 

Partnering with funeral homes and cemeteries, "Our Black Rose" care packages will be delivered directly and soon after the tragedy of losing a loved one to suicide. These partnerships are key to the success of “Our Black Rose” and will take time to build relationships for a pilot project in Allegheny County.

the steps

We have specifically chosen to launch "Our Black Rose” during the month of September as it is national suicide prevention month. With the funds raised through this campaign, we will purchase supplies for the care packages and begin delivering them to funeral homes and cemeteries. It is also our hope to purchase a color printer to print the resources included in the care package at a lower cost.  

One of the major drivers for our family in launching "Our Black Rose" was the amount of financial/legal issues we were faced with after the traumatic death of our Pat. A suicide can be an unplanned and sudden event leaving behind a whirlwind of loose ends that fall to the surviving family. In the event that there is no will and testament, the loss survivors are left with the burden of handling extremely personal details of their lost loved one's life during a period of overwhelming shock and grief. Should a family member become an executor of the estate? What happens to debt and bank accounts? What do you do with their cell pone? What burial procedures would their lost loved one want? What happens to their vehicle? In the event of special clean-up services needed after the suicide, who covers the cost? What options are out there for such things? Can any legal action be taken against family members for finanical issues? These are the questions our family faced with very little guidance on where to turn. It is our hope that the "Our Black Rose" care packages can help lighten the load of the many difficult decisions to be made.  

We understand that our family’s experience is only one of many stories and there are many other suicide loss survivors with unique experiences. We have formed, currently only from personal connections, a beginning advisory group of suicide loss survivors to review the concept of "Our Black Rose" and help us move forward. Here are some chosen initial comments:

  • “We lost a 21-year-old step-nephew and our step-brother-in-law died by suicide this year. We have another friend who lost both a brother-in-law and a cousin to suicide. Anything that I can do to help or be involved, please let me know.”
  • “My dad killed himself a little over 2 years ago. I’d be happy to help in any way.”
  • “I think effort around suicide survivors is so needed. My friend lost her 18-year-old daughter two years ago and my cousin lost a son last Saturday. My granddaughter attempted suicide about six weeks ago. I am willing to help in any way I can.”
  • “My uncle committed suicide when I was in 5th grade, and it is etched in my mind. After, my mom turned into a bad alcoholic. I’m happy to help you any way I can.”
  • “My husband lost his dad to suicide. I love how you are so open and supportive of the cause and awareness.”
  • “As someone that survived two suicide attempts in my 20’s, I am so grateful that you are creating something game changing for others from your pain. Let me know if there is anything I can do help.”
  • “I lost a friend this past March to suicide. I’m happy to assist.”

why we're doing it

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Pennsylvania and the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-34. In Allegheny County over the last two years, there have been 171 suicides- 54% (93) were caused by firearms and 53% of the individuals lost were between the ages of 25-54.

Suicide is a public health issue which affects a much larger number of people than only the individual who dies by suicide. Research firmly establishes that family members of individuals who die by suicide have a greater risk of dying by suicide themselves. However, postvention services or activities that help reduce risk and promote health and healing, are difficult to find for suicide loss survivors beyond support groups.  The grief process for suicide loss survivors is intense with emotion as the questions of “Why?” and “How could I have missed this?” loom large and heavy. In addition, in the immediate aftermath of a suicide there are many factors’ families must address which are not easily discussed or shared (clean-up services specifically needed in a firearm death), legal issues (unpaid debt, house, no will, etc.), insurance of the loved one, and questions from authorities and first responders. The scene of a suicide is often cold and criminal-like and families/loved ones are often left in shock and experiencing an extreme trauma. Postvention services for suicide loss survivors should be viewed as prevention, but currently are hard to access and seem to be limited solely to support groups.


Updated Budget (11.4.21):

1) Reimbursement for Past Expenses of Care Packages: $1,500

2) Website: $2,000

3) Color Printer: $500

4) Marketing Materials: $500

5) Legal Advice/Non-Profit Filing Fees/Administrative Costs for Fiscal Agent: $600

6) Supplies for Care Packages: $5,112- supplies include journal, pens, bracelets, boxes, tote bag, survivor handbook, page protectors for resources, ribbon, labels, cards, stickers, etc.

TOTAL RAISED = $11,100.00
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) $555.00
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $333.00

Original Budget:

The black rose is a symbol of beauty and life existing even in darkness. Our family is raising money to offer suicide loss survivors care packages through partnering funeral homes and cemeteries in Allegheny County. Each "Our Black Rose" care package costs between $20-$25 and will include:

  • A journal and pen for writing memories, thoughts, and complex feelings 
  • A tote bag to store special pictures and/or items of your lost loved one
  • "Our Black Rose" bracelets to focus attention on suicide loss survivors and suicide prevention
  • Forget-me-Not seeds as a reminder of life
  • A pre-addressed post card to a PO Box requesting contact information of the family member and information of the deceased with key dates. “Our Black Rose” will then send cards/updates on difficult days within the first year of loss (birthdays, holidays, death day, etc.)
  • A listing of resources including legal (American Bar Association), support groups (UPMC and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), and how to cope with a suicide loss (Highmark Caring Place).
  • A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide ( by the American Association of Suicidology
  • A personal written letter by our family- The Family of Patrick D. Butler

ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) $272
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)

Please note, fees are estimated here and final numbers may change based on the final amount raised.


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