A Suicide Survivor - My Story
As I sit here looking out the window on this snowy Sunday morning, I think about how beautiful it would be up north during this time of year (my all time favorite place to be)! Snow covered trees, fresh air, the quietness of the early mornings and while the thought brings me comfort, it also reminds me of my brother and his place up north... his happy place as he once called it. The wonderful memories of up north quickly turn to sad thoughts of my family’s first holiday without him. I lost my only brother to suicide, a day that changed my family forever.
My brother and I were close as kids. We played together on rainy days for hours making up games that we would later laugh about as adults. We took cushions and pillows off the couch, scattered them on the sea blue carpet (aka “the ocean” as we called it), and jumped from each one to avoid “falling in”. We would play with all his little hot wheels and build roads made of Lincoln logs to drive endlessly around the family room. His hot wheels were his prize possession and by allowing me to play with them, I knew it meant he liked me a lot… at least for the time being. As with all brothers or sisters, we had moments where we did not have the perfect relationship that I always dreamed of having. I dreamed of a brother who I could trust and tell all my secrets to. One who would hug me when I cried and tell me everything would be ok. I didn’t always get this perfect brother I dreamed of, but I wasn’t always the perfect sister either. I picked on him, made faces, and tried to endlessly annoy him like only sisters can. One thing I knew for sure though was that even when we didn’t get along, we loved each other very much- it was just hard for us to both show it. Now, I would give anything to have that chance again…that chance to show him just how much I loved him.
June 5, 2017- the quiet June morning my brother ended his life. It was a morning my family will never forget. It was a morning that led my mother to have a near breakdown. It was a morning that turned our life upside down. Until you have been through the experience of losing someone in this way, it is nearly impossible to share or describe the feelings of shock and loss. He left behind a letter trying to describe his pain; really unbearable pain. In his letter, he describes how much he’s hurting when he said, “I may look ok on the outside, but on the inside, I am in unbearable pain” and “the world would be so much better without me”. I wish he knew how wrong he was.
I miss my brother every single day. I'm filled with the guilt that there was something I could have done. I cannot tell him I love him no matter what happens. I cannot tell him how much I miss our childhood and how I wish we could go back to being young children playing games together. I want to grow old with him. I want to share stories and laugh about the good times we had. My heart hurts and I feel as though a small part of me is gone with him. With his absence, I now realize just how close we actually were.
This is not an easy story to share and I’m hoping it helps in my healing process. I also hope it helps to bring a little more compassion and understanding to those who believe that suicide is a selfish or cowardly act. Suicide is the result of extreme pain and depression in which they feel there is no other way out. I ask that you never tell a suicide survivor that the loved one they miss so much was selfish or a coward. It is difficult enough to endure the loss, to understand the pain, and to grieve without having someone judge the path your loved one has taken.
Suicide statistics are astounding, yet unrecognized due to the stigma attached to this type of death. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, 44,193 Americans die by suicide and on average, 121 people die from suicide per day. Firearms account for near 50% of suicide deaths and the rate is highest among middle-aged white males. These statistics are alarming and they show that there is a large problem in our country that needs to be dealt with.
I believe all tragedies have something positive come out of them. In my heart, I truly believe that all events in our life, no matter how tragic, are an opportunity to learn, grow, and make changes. Even with the horrendous loss of my brother, I’m determined to make changes in my life and hopefully help someone who may be going through this same painful journey.
K Bella's Fundraiser to Benefit the ASPF
My family and I are beyond grateful that K Bella Hair Studio & Spa has chosen the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for their yearly fundraiser. This non-profit organization funds missions to save lives and gives hope to those affected by suicide. All proceeds from our fundraiser will go in honor of my brother and others who have lost their lives. I hope this will help bring awareness to those who may not understand the depth of hopelessness one feels or desperation to escape the pain. This pain can become so great that it overrides the natural human instinct to survive. I pray that everyone becomes more mindful of the troubles others are going through and gain a better understanding of why someone may choose this way out. Families dealing with a loss like this need love and compassion during a very confusing time.
In memory and honor of my brother, I personally thank you for helping us make a difference, even if it’s just one life, one family... because we all matter.