Karyl Lynn Chastain

Updated
06-07-12



Karyl Lynn Chastain BealKaryl Lynn Chastain Beal has spent her life helping others: first as a teacher, then as a genealogist, later as an advocate for victims of domestic violence, and finally, as a suicide prevention educator and suicide grief support leader. She is of the Thomas County, Georgia Chastains.

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Biography
Genealogical Work
Suicide Grief Support, Education, and Prevention
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Biography

Family

Karyl Lynn was born September 21, 1947 to Patrick Marvin Chastain and Gloria Muriel Miller Chastain in Thomasville, Georgia. She was baptized December 1947 at St. Augustine's Catholic Church in Thomasville, and confirmed at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Thomasville December 1963, thus returning her to the church of her immigrant ancestor. Karyl's descent from immigrant Pierre Chastain is 1. Pierre; 2. Rene; 3. Peter; 4. Renny; 5. Solomon; 6. James Jackson; 7. Luther Cleveland; 8. Patrick Marvin; 9. Karyl Lynn.

She married Ronald Lee Beal on November 21, 1970 in Thomasville, Georgia. Ronnie was born January 14, 1947 in Jacksonville, Alabama to Ottie Lee Knighten and Horace Davis Beal. Karyl and Ronald Beal have two children: Ronald Patrick Beal, born April 8, 1974 in Austell, Georgia, and Arlyn Maria Beal, born January 25, 1978 in Thomasville, Georgia.

Career

Karyl graduated from Thomasville High School in 1965 and earned a B.S. in Education from Georgia Southern College in 1969 and a Master's degree in Education from Valdosta State College in 1979. She taught in Georgia for 30 years, mostly 5th grade, and one year was chosen as Teacher of the Year for Brooks County, Georgia. Karyl served on the Thomas County Library Board and helped start the Pavo Public Library. She founded Halcyon Home for Battered Women in Thomasville after finding out that a relative and friend had both been victims of domestic violence. Karyl is a past officer of Wave Trust, an organization whose aim is to reduce violence. She's retired now and volunteers her time to educating people about suicide prevention and offering suicide grief support. She and her husband live in Columbia, Tennessee.

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Genealogical Work

Our Family HistoryIn 1979, Karyl released a significant genealogical work, Our Family History: Chastain-Harrell, which explores the ancestors and descendants of her grandparents, Luther Cleveland and Mary Effie Harrell. It is a large sized red, hardback of 211 pages and includes 1300 names. The book is now out of print, but is posted on the internet with updates. Luther Cleveland Chastain

The book is divided into three sections: The story of Luther Cleveland (see photo) and Mary Effie Harrell Chastain, Descendants of Luther Cleveland Chastain and related lines, and Harrell Family information. It contains excellent data and fills a gap in information on the important Thomas County, Georgia Chastain group. But it suffers from lack of a name index, so it is not easily searchable. However, the on-line edition has a nice search engine. At the time of publication, Karyl was uncertain of the precise lineage from 1. Pierre to 5. Solomon, but that is now known.

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Suicide Grief Support, Education, and Prevention

Arlyn Maria BealOn August 7, 1996, Karyl's youngest child, Arlyn Maria Beal, died by suicide at 18. She had graduated from Thomas County Central High School just two months before and was to leave for Tulane University in New Orleans in two weeks. The week before she died, she was sharing her fall Tulane schedule with enthusiasm. She was a member of MENSA and an acolyte of nine years at St. Thomas Episcopal Church. She debated, ran cross country track, won beauty pageants, and volunteered for the Halcyon Home for Battered Women. She enjoyed her part-time job as a waitress at Quincy's. However, unknown to her parents, there were problems Arlyn held in secret. Her story is told at her virtual memorial.

The suicide was completely unexpected and was devastating to Karyl Lynn.

Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable SoulShortly after Arlyn's death, Karyl Lynn retired from teaching and devoted herself to helping suicide families. She earned certification as a thanatologist from the Association for Death Education and Education, and has published articles in Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul, the Journal for the National Alliance on Mentally Ill, Seventeen Magazine, Ezine, and various other places. She's a frequent speaker on suicide and grief, and she and teaches QPR, a suicide prevention program.

In 1998, Karyl founded Parents of Suicides (POS), one of the longest-running Internet support groups for parents losing a child. Parents of Suicides now has over 800 affiliates. Karyl Lynn became founder of other online support sites, including Friends & Families of Suicides (FFOS), Grieving Parents, Parents Forever, Faces of Suicide, and the Suicide Reference Library.

Karyl manages the International Suicide Memorial Wall website (See Video), the We Remember Them memorial wall site, and the Suicide Grief Support Forum. Karyl Lynn has been involved with a number of other grief counseling groups, such as AFSP's Survivor Council, Hospice, The Compassionate Friends, and is on the advisory council of the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA. She is very active in the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, and is coordinator of the suicide memorial quilts in Tennessee. In addition, she was appointed by the governor of Tennessee to the State Suicide Prevention Advisory Council.

In 2007, SPAN USA (Suicide Prevention Action Network) presented to Karyl the Sandy Martin Grassroots Award for suicide prevention, and she received the 2009 Suicide Survivor Recognition Award and a gorgeous plaque from the American Association of Suicidology, of which she is a member.

Contact Karyl at karylcb@bellsouth.net.

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