WELLS, Maine — Morgan Mosher was 16 years old when her dad committed suicide in 2002.
Her mother could not afford private therapy to help Morgan cope with the grief, guilt and confusion, so the state provided the low-income teen with four free sessions with a therapist.
“At 16, I didn’t want to be sitting in a room with some old man. So for the whole hour I just sat there and didn’t say a word,” Morgan said.
Her sister Sydney, two years younger, also suffered in silence. She never told any of her friends about it, and in fact did not speak of the suicide to anyone for the next 10 years.
Now grown up, the sisters and their older brother, Isaiah Mosher, are silent no longer. This June, they set up a nonprofit foundation called Camp Kita to provide children suffering similar tragedies with a stronger support network than they had, and therapies specifically tailored to young people coping with a loved one’s suicide. In addition to traditional therapy, the camp will have music therapists, art therapists and even a horse-riding therapist.
“We want to make it fun for the kids,” Morgan said, “[not just] an old man in a room.”
The siblings are negotiating to rent a 400-acre camp on a lake in Poland for one week next August. They hope their campers will develop a network of support with one another as well as the therapists, and Camp Kita plans to hold events throughout the year to reinforce those bonds.
Though the therapists and camp nurse are volunteering their time, money is needed. Camp Kita will hold its first major fundraiser, a kite-flying event, 2-4 p.m. Oct. 13, at the east end of Wells Beach.
Morgan said the family decided on kite-flying because it takes focus and control, just like children in mourning need to learn how to cope in a focused and controlled way. And, of course, it’s fun.
Participants can pay $25 for a white kite which they can decorate with art supplies that will be provided. The Moshers’ mother will do face-painting for children. The event will be held rain or shine.
Though Morgan and Sydney Mosher both live in Massachusetts now, Wells Beach is special to Morgan because her dad took her there after their first father-daughter dance. Isaiah Mosher lives in Wells, “and since Isaiah is the only one of us who’s settled down, with a house and family, we decided to make Wells our base,” Morgan said.
The need for a group like Camp Kita is great in Maine, which averages about 180 suicides a year, 80 percent of them men, according to the Maine Suicide Prevention Program. According to the U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, Maine’s suicide rate of 14 per 100,000 people was much higher than the northeast’s rate of 9.3 per 100,000 and also higher than the national average of 12.1.
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.CampKita.com.