Suicide Surviors' Club
by Laurie Phillips & Rebecca Anderson

Rebecca's story, suicide loss survivor and author 

My writing stopped when my husband Don died by suicide in 2002. Life was consumed with caring for my children, seeking help and working through the shock and trauma of his death. 

Creativity has always been a source of inspiration, intimacy and connection for my family and me. Eight years after Don's death my good friend Laurie approached me with the idea of creating a series of illustrated books about our family's experience. 

Helping my children express themselves in the ways they could was a top priority, so I said yes. We began collaborating on what would become "Suicide Survivors' Club: A Family's Journey Through the Death of Their Loved One." Laurie's approach through visual art and narrative allowed a gentle way for us to communicate our experiences. We were all aware something hopeful and transformative was happening. My children's voices were being heard in a safe, private haven called home. 

Our goal was to make difficult subject matter easier to discuss. We never dreamed our work would reach a broader audience. I witnessed the confidence and pride my children gained through the process. Laurie continued to encourage me to write a memoir, "Parenting the Suicide Survivors' Club." I accepted the challenge because I thought it might help others; in the end, writing my memoir helped me to heal. 

Laurie's story, artist/storyteller 

I approached Becky with the idea of going on an art/narrative journey with her and her children because I was inspired by how she had steered herself and three kids through their healing. In this creative project, each family member would have their own book, in their own voice. 

I realized I was entering sacred ground with her children, Will (13), Aidan (15), and Pattie (27). I'm not very comfortable with kids, so helping them express their feelings about losing their dad was daunting. Becky said she trusted me. She encouraged the children to embrace the process. We didn't rush it. 

The books that evolved were at first intended only for the family and an art show, but we soon saw that they could help others, so we published them. 

Through the process, I have grown and gained confidence in my approach; a few words on a page with evocative art can open people to their stories and healing. 

Trauma can make us feel isolated and alone, but art can knit us back into the fabric of human life. 

Rebecca Anderson lives in Mound and Laurie Phillips lives in St. Paul. They speak to groups about using storytelling and artwork to transform trauma. To learn more about their "Suicide Survivors' Club" 5-book set, go to: 

What: Rebecca Anderson and Laurie Phillips will talk about "Suicide Survivors' Club" 
Where: Magers and Quinn Booksellers, 3038 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. 
When: Jan. 26, 2017, 7 p.m. 
FFI: 612-822-4611 or 

Mound family's stories about suicide offer a way to heal

by Kim Ode, June 3, 2016

We'd rather feel almost anything other than grief. Often, someone we love has died. Probably, their death caught us off-guard. Yet, Laurie Phillips believes that there is a way to endure grief, "a way you can hold this horrific thing lightly." Even when the horrific thing is suicide.

Phillips is a St. Paul artist who, with longtime friend Rebecca Anderson of Mound, created "Suicide Survivors' Club," a series of five picture books about the Anderson family's journey after the death of their husband and father, Donald Anderson. The books tackle heavy issues, but their spare language and evocative watercolor illustrations lend them the accessibility of children's literature, encouraging readers to hold this horrific topic lightly, indeed.


Author highlights the effect of suicide on family, loved ones

Don Anderson was a loving father and husband who, like many struggling with depression, battled suicidal thoughts. In 2002, he took his own life, leaving behind a wife, daughter and two young sons. 
Nearly 14 years later, his wife Rebecca “Becky” Anderson and their children have made public the emotional highs and lows that they survived on the way to reconciling with the tragedy. A collaboration with friend and illustrator Laurie Phillips, Anderson’s new five-book series, The Suicide Survivors Club
 relates the deeply personal and complex process of coming to terms with the loss through the eyes of each of the family members. Through the stories and their epilogues, Anderson hopes to shine light and hope onto the often-taboo subject of suicide.


St. Catherine showcases feminist art by 11 contemporary women

by Mary Abbe
February 27, 2014

... The most e­mo­tion­al­ly af­fect­ing piece is “Su­i­cide Sur­vi­vors’ Club: A Family’s Jour­ney Through the Death of Their Loved One,” a se­ries of little books de­signed and pro­duced by art­ist Laurie Phil­lips about a fam­i­ly’s emo­tio­nal up­heav­al fol­low­ing the su­i­cide of a hus­band and fa­ther of three. Each book tells the sto­ry of one sur­vi­vor in sim­ple, mov­ing words, the moth­er tan­gled in legal and sur­viv­al prob­lems, the col­lege-age daugh­ter e­mo­tion­al­ly de­railed, sons ages 5 and 7 drift­ing be­tween play and in­com­pre­hen­sion. 


Rebecca and her son Aidan are available to speak to your group about using art and storytelling to heal from grief surrounding the suicide of a loved one. Please contact Rebecca for information about scheduling a presentation or ordering book sets in volume.    


We invite you to listen to the conversation Mother-Daughter co-hosts Marti Erickson, PhD & Erin Erickson,DNP, MPH, RN had with Becky and her son Aidan on the podcast Mom Enough. Mother and son's mission is  to remove the stigma and shame surrounding suicide loss survivors and to bring mental illness and suicide out of the shadows.