Many of you that follow HERE and THERE know that both Lady Hiva and I have had brothers commit suicide in the past 3 years. I have written about my own feelings on the blog a few times and cover the emotions that I experienced with Trevor’s suicide in my memoir, WHITE LILIES IN AUTUMN. Over the past few years since Trevor’s death and the last few months since Moana’s death I have watched how family members and friends handle the situation. We all handle it a bit differently.
I realized that I wanted to do something more, so I volunteered to help with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Some family members and friends still struggle to talk about suicide. I am unsure if that is due to embarrassment, anger, or they have their own struggles they are not ready to face; however, being able to talk and think through those emotions is exactly what needs to happen. To open up and allow the wounds to heal.
Far too often when I tell people that my brother committed suicide, they are struck with silence and don’t know what to say. I usually try to help them see that I, too, don’t understand the situation so it is OK that they don’t either. Sadly, the conversation about suicide is taboo for some people. As if they think that not acknowledging there is a problem means it will just disappear. But it doesn’t. When people are struggling, they need help, they need to know that they are loved and there are ways to overcome.
Last month a good friend from my mission that I have stayed in contact with went out to dinner with us. She is doing some amazing work helping communities prevent problems youth face today—including drugs, teen pregnancy, suicide, and depression. I was so impressed with all that she was doing and knew that I too wanted to make a difference. In memory of Trevor and Moana. I may not be able to bring either of them back to us, but I can help educate others on how to help their family members.
If I could help families recognize the signs of depression and /or suicide and know what to do if they were worried about someone they love, it is worth all it.
Today I helped man a booth at a Youth Fair in D.C. for high school students from Virginia and Maryland. We were able to cover issues that youth face including bullying, depression, and suicide. I stood next to a huge banner that blared the shocking reality that “Every 14 minutes in the United States someone dies by suicide. That means every 15 minutes someone is left to make sense of it.” Sobering.
I talked to parents, to teenagers, to community leaders. I handed out flyers, asked questions, and told my personal story. The other volunteers had lost family members to suicide too and it was special to talk with them and their healing process. I was impressed with all the organizations, donors and people that give of their time and talents to help others. There are always amazing people everywhere.
As I said earlier, it felt good to be doing something to help; it is too late for Trevor or Moana, but not too late for others. I feel the more I help educate others and get the conversation started with them, the more help can be extended to those that truly need it.
So I want to end this post with another part of the banner: “Suicide can be prevented learn how you can help, www.afsp.org”