The Telephone Call That Changed My Life Forever

On January 26, 1992, I received a phone call that my brother had died by suicide.

This was a complete shock as I had just recently spoken with him on the phone to share my engagement to my husband.

I did not realize that as I was sharing one of the most special moments in my life that my brother was experiencing the worst moments in his life.  Moments that seemed so overwhelming, so disappointing and so depressing that death seemed better than life.

As I type this article, it is hard to hold back tears.  To think that my brother felt SO SAD, that he did not want to live anymore.

The harsh reality is that many have felt that their pain was greater than any possibilities of future happiness and have died by suicide or made a suicide attempt.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year and for every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide.

Depression and suicide are linked, with about two thirds of people who commit suicide being depressed at their time of death, according to the Academy of Suicidology.

And unfortunately, this was not my first experience with depression.  After my mother died of a massive stroke at the young age of 42, I found notes that she had written to herself, “I am depressed” and “need to get life together”, in her dresser drawers.  I realized after finding numerous notes, that even though my mother died of a massive stroke, feelings of being overwhelmed and depression had also contributed to her death.

Motivation for who I am and why I do what I do?

It was my mother’s hidden depression and my brother’s suicide as well as my own personal experience with grief that led me to become who I am and why I do what I do today.

I became a therapist, because I didn’t want anyone to suffer alone or feel that they had to navigate through the challenges of life alone.

As painful as my experiences have been, I am thankful for those experiences because I feel that I have a unique perspective to understand other people’s pain and most importantly I have discovered how you can use your pain as a motivating force to grow through your experiences.

I became an integrative health professional—therapist, trainer, and nutrition specialist, because I learned that in order to powerfully GO THROUGH AND GROW THROUGH life and all of its challenges, you must be of optimal health.

In order to have a strong mind, you must have a strong and healthy body.

It may seem awkward and even uncomfortable to really think about your mental health.  For many it is much easier to pretend like everything is okay rather than risk sharing that you are not okay due to the fear of someone’s potentially negative reaction or to “appear weak” or that you “don’t have it all together.”

Saying that you are not okay when you are not okay and openly sharing your vulnerabilities is the most courageous thing that you can do.  It shows that you are human and gives other people the permission to be human as well.

Openly sharing sadness when you are feeling sad or reaching out for support when you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed is a sign of courage and strength, not weakness.

I ask that if you are feeling sad, overwhelmed, or depressed that you reach out instead of turning inward.

I have observed that it is often during our greatest challenges in life when we often turn inward when we should be reaching outward.  I understand that when you are going through a difficult time, it is hard to feel that anybody understands what you are feeling which makes you feel alone and isolated in your experience, so it seems better to hide and retract away from others.  However, hiding your feelings and retracting from others can have dire consequences.

I have learned that it is only after you reach out that you realize that you are NOT ALONE.  In fact, quite often in reaching out, you find someone who has had a similar experience that is not only willing to share their experience but also willing to extend their hand and guide you through your pain.

If you need someone to talk to and would like to receive mental health supportive services, seek the assistance of a licensed mental health professional.

Michigan’s largest conference on suicide — the Kevin’s Song 6th Annual Virtual Conference on Suicide — Equity and Equality in Suicide Prevention: Expanding the Conversation and Offering Solutions will take place virtually, live, and streamed January 27 – 29, 2022.  The three-day conference will explore solutions to the challenges that contribute to inequities regarding suicide prevention and offers solutions for change.

Visit www.kevinssong.org for more information about registration, scholarships or a complete roster of conference events and speakers.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

 

 

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