Suicide: a Survivor’s Perspective
I, myself, have not attempted suicide, but I consider myself a survivor. Why? Because my family experienced multiple suicides, including my mom.
I was only 13 years old when my mom died by suicide. Sometimes, I have trouble remembering events in my childhood, but not that day. Even though almost 21 years have passed, I still clearly remember that day in mind, as if it was yesterday. Not a day goes by that I do not think of my mom and how my life has changed.
Not a day goes by that I do not think of my mom and how my life has changed.
I call myself a survivor because from her suicide I learned and I grew as a person. For 10 years, I was just so angry at my mom. I couldn’t understand why, and things were hard. I didn’t really show it, but I had a hard time processing everything. I started to shy away from people.
My mom’s suicide wasn’t really talked about after the funeral happened. No one discussed it and people shied away from the topic. But, even that young, you can see how people treated you differently and talked about it when they didn’t think you could hear. Going back to school after everything was especially difficult. At that age, kids don’t really understand suicide. Teasing and jokes were made, but I don’t think some classmates realized how hurtful the comments were.
Not talking about it was hard. I did not have an understanding of my mom and her struggles with her mental health until a few years after her death. Learning more about my mom and her struggles helped me get some perspective.
Gaining that perspective helped me get over the guilt. Subconsciously, I knew I had nothing to feel guilty over but I would still think, “Well, why didn’t I see it?” and “I should have done something.” I struggled with those feelings of guilt for a long time and I yearned to be able to talk about it with friends and family, but I never really knew how to bring it up.
Learning more about my mom and her struggles helped me get some perspective. Gaining that perspective helped me get over the guilt
Then in 2009, things started to turn around. My feelings and thoughts surrounding my mom’s suicide evolved. My cousin, Neda, heard about a national organization called the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and they were hosting a walk in Chicago with the goal of raising money for suicide prevention and education. My cousin talked me into doing the walk that year; I don’t think she knows how much that changed my life.
Gearing up for the walk, I started to talk to some friends and family about suicide and my mom. I was able to start a dialogue about the importance of mental health. We participated in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk where we walked 16 miles, from dusk to dawn. We started and ended at Solider Field. It was tough, but so worth it. Meeting so many people at the walk and sharing our stories really inspired me. No longer was I afraid to bring up the subject. No longer would I allow myself to be angry at my mom. Instead, I chose to become active and let the negative emotions go.
Ever since 2009, I do not hesitate to share my story or my experience. I know what I went through at 13 deeply affected me and I want to be able to help others who have lost a loved one to suicide. I want those contemplating suicide to know that help is out there and they just need to reach out.
Meeting so many people at the walk and sharing our stories really inspired me. No longer was I afraid to bring up the subject. No longer would I allow myself to be angry at my mom. Instead, I chose to become active and let the negative emotions go.
I did more walks, raised more money, shared statistics, and posts on social media. I wanted to do my part, no matter how small, to help bring suicide into the forefront. Mental health is not a topic I will shy away from anymore. Seeking help is not a weakness but a strength. If sharing my story inspires or helps even one person then my goal was achieved.