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Suicide Prevention Week Stories    

Suicide Prevention Week Stories

Content Warning: This year for National Suicide Prevention Week, we wanted to highlight the stories of people touched by suicide. We believe that these stories are not too heavy or scary to talk about. In fact, the only way for us to move forward in supporting people is by normalizing them. The more we make room for this conversation, the more we can help those who are struggling to find the beauty in life again. 

Every day this week, we shared a story of someone touched by suicide in some capacity. We hope their stories serve to remind you that you’re never alone, and that asking for help does not make you a burden. Read them all, below.

Photo by Olivia McDowell

“In 2014 my father killed himself. He had long suffered from alcoholism and depression and reached a place where he felt as though his problems were unfixable. Suicide is a complicated and nuanced subject. Oftentimes the conversation turns to blaming the person who has chosen to end their life as opposed to feeling compassion. Our mourning can so easily turn to anger at the person rather than their condition. I personally have struggled with suicidal ideation at times in my life in relation to being trans, having an eating disorder, and depression. This experience of having someone close to me take their life showed me that suicide was something real and my own condition could lead to the same if I didn't care for myself.  While it has made me much more aware and attentive to my own health, it has also shown me that is is not a shameful act and it is not something we need to tiptoe around.  It has taught me to lead with a certain level of empathy and compassion for every human being I encounter. It has shown me that specific loneliness that leads to suicidal thoughts is preventable through connection and support. My hope for anyone struggling is to see that needing help isn't shameful, and that healing is attainable, no matter what shape you’re in.” - Blythe

Photo by Olivia McDowell

“A few years ago, someone dear to me and my family made an attempt on their life. My family's history is filled with stories of generational love and collective care, but also with pain, violence, war, and displacement. Fears of bureaucracy and mistrust of power are some of many reasons why mental health was rarely discussed in my childhood, and as a result, rarely a thought in my mind until I became much older. It has only been in the last few years and due to that moment of possible loss that mental health and suicide have been topics my family and I have been able to talk about. However, we are still learning and holding each other along the way. As a teacher, it is imperative that my students' well-being is cared for. 1 in 6 high school students in the US has considered suicide. I find myself wearing many hats in the classroom to the point where it’s easy to get overwhelmed and I sometimes question my capacity to hold my students fully in their pain as I struggle with mine. My only hope is that we, as a classroom and more broadly as a community, can be seen and heard, and have our needs met as we heal together.” - Ly

Photo by Olivia McDowell

“The first person I lost to suicide was my own Robin Williams. The friend who always had a smile on his face and the one that no one saw coming. I thought about him a lot over the years because, like most of us, I too go through my own mental health issues – been on meds, been off meds, had episodes of depression, and at my worst had thoughts of suicide. The point is I’m just great at hiding it. My best coping mechanism is humor and every skill I’ve ever taught myself is just me trying to escape depression. Even at my lowest I know at the end of the day the solution to my problems isn’t within other people, material objects, or acquiring wealth. No one can make you truly happy if you can’t make yourself happy, and that’s the shit I’m on. I know some Black men aren’t fond of talking about mental health and I’ve seen them push that stigma on me before but it takes hearing these conversations from someone who looks like you in order to cut that stigma out. Sometimes the coping mechanism - the humor - is the middleman to having the real conversation.  If I’ve learned anything it’s cut out the middleman and tell ‘em how you really feel.” - Kieran

Photo by Olivia McDowell

“My experience with suicide was limited prior to Hunter. There were people from neighboring high schools, younger students from school, and a parent of a fellow student, but no one I personally knew. Several months before Hunter, my uncle attempted but survived. These instances held me for a moment, but ultimately I felt spared of tragedy. The day Hunter died will be hard to forget; it still feels so vivid. Hunter was my boyfriend’s roommate; I saw him often but didn’t know him well. Yet the moments I shared with him were tender. I had a softness for him, as if I subconsciously felt his inner pain. I wish I had been more attuned to that when he was alive. I’m not sure it would have changed anything but I’m also not sure it wouldn’t have. I’d like to believe that with the right treatment Hunter could have been helped. He could have seen what we all saw: a magical being who was just as beautiful inside as outside. A few months prior, I began seeing a therapist of my own. The impact therapy had on me combined with Hunter’s death made it clear that we all can benefit from seeing someone. As a commitment to mental health and awareness, I am pursuing my Master’s of Social Work to become a therapist. I’d like to think I could offer Hunter a space to be with his thoughts and struggles if he were here with us now.” - Jaclyn

Photo by Olivia McDowell

“Brendan was my full of life older brother who took me to get fish tacos, make sandcastles on the beach, and drive on his motorcycle down our long winding driveway. When I was a freshman in high school, he died by suicide. I always say I never knew what I wanted to do growing up but looking back on it, ever since Brendan, I realize I did. I knew the rest of my life would be spent working to destigmatize mental health challenges so that not one more person felt they couldn’t share their scary feelings ever again. Since it happened, I’ve had this lingering feeling that I didn’t really know him. It feels like a precariously healed wound that you can still feel the original injury behind. They say time heals grief, but in my experience, time just gives you the space to learn how to live with grief in your heart without letting it consume you. If I can leave you with any advice, it’s that if you’re scared, say something. If you’re sad, say something. If you’re worried about a friend, say something. If you are considering suicide, say something. Because there’s always another way to feel better even if you don’t see it right now.” - Meadow

Photo by Olivia McDowell

“One of my best friends since kindergarten took his life the second year of medical school. He didn't leave a note to explain why but many believe the cause was his dad being the subject of a high profile criminal case. That's one of the most poignant aspects of this story: he was one of the mentally toughest people I knew and yet there was something so close to him that, unbeknownst to me, bothered him to the point of breaking. It's wild how many high school classmates I've lost to drug overdoses or car crashes. It was a bizarre anticipated anxiety every time I met up with college friends to see if someone had heard about someone else who died from our class. But when I found out about my friend, that one hit hard. That's something you can't prepare for when you're a kid: losing someone you thought would always be there. And to think that he ended it, I couldn't help but wonder how I could've helped. This is why I find myself truly asking how people are doing and making sure it's not an automated response when they say, "I'm fine." I've made myself available to my friends because I don't want to lose another friend like that. He lives on in the way I treat mental health for myself and those around me. We miss you, man.” - Bryan

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414 and subscribing to our bi-monthly newsletter here.