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To all who have lost a loved one to suicide or overdose

use-your-voice

I’ve made a commitment.

I need one from you.

On behalf of my son Charles who died by suicide, I am carrying on a tradition he handed down to me and that is to reach out.

Survivors of suicide loss and those who have lost a child or loved one to overdose need to say the words suicide, mental illness, addiction and drug overdose.

Don’t soften it, sugar coat it or hide behind it

If we do, we carry on a tradition of shame instead of acknowledging our loved ones struggled from an illness. Those illnesses will continue to carry stigma if we don’t talk.

It has to start with us. We have all lost something very precious and we owe it to our loved ones to honor their memories and their struggle.

With heroin deaths and suicides at epidemic levels, there are, unfortunately, a lot of us suffering a devastating loss. Too many.

There are also a lot of people out there still struggling with depression and addiction. We can help. We can curb the losses.

Only we have traveled the entire path to the most devastating ending we could ever imagine.

That knowledge, that hurt and that passion are all very valuable

You didn’t want it or ask for it. But you have it now and we can’t waste it. Nobody can rally for this cause like we can.

There is power in numbers and collectively we can inspire a change in our vocabulary and bring stigmatized illnesses out into the open. I know many of us already are.

Start by using the words

Mental illness. Addiction. Died by suicide. Drug overdose.

We’ve done the silent thing and look where that’s gotten us. So let’s hit it head on and make a dent.

Don’t make excuses.

It is a pledge we all need to make. It is an opportunity to educate. It is a legacy for your loved one. Most importantly, it will save lives, inspire others to get help and open up resources and change.

If those in recovery from mental illness and/or addiction want to join us, we’d love to have you. Friends of ours who have supported us in grief, you can be there to share and shout.

So who’s with me?

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

10 thoughts on “To all who have lost a loved one to suicide or overdose”

  1. My mom committed suicide when my Daughter was six months old. That was ten years ago! I still can’t “get over it”. Birthdays and the day we found out still haunt me. I try to think what would Mary Jane do in this situation. I have many times thought of taking her way out of pain and grief but then I think of or see my daughter and know I could never do this to her. I’m so very sad my daughter will never know my mom, while she was an undiagnosed bi polar, she had a wonderful heart and awesome mind. I miss her every minute. But I really have no one to talk to about my feelings because her name ends conversations, other ppl don’t want to move past how she died and they have just moved on with life. I can’t move on because I never want to close this chapter and lose more of her. 😢

  2. Hi Anne,
    A little over a month ago my ex-husband died of suicide. He had bi polar disorder and suffered from major depression for many years. His first attempt at suicide was in 1997 and over the next 20 years he had many suicidal ideations and was admitted to psychiatric hospitals many, many times. We were together for 30 years and I spent many of those years trying to keep him alive. I have two children who spent their childhoods in a state of terror not knowing what their dad would do. He was an alcoholic and refused to take medication and I finally filed for divorce 4 years ago. My ex-husband’s family is blaming my two children for his death because at the time he died they were not speaking to him because he was very verbally abusive and made it impossible for them to have a relationship with him. I am interested in helping any way I can to try and make a difference for people suffering with mental illness. My son had wrist bands made “End the Stigma” with my exes initials and the date he passed. My kids and I never take these bands off. We want everyone to know how he died so we can try to get people to understand that mental illness is just like any other illness and that people need to accept it so the stigma can end. Hopefully then people who are mentally ill will get the help they need so they don’t end up taking their own lives.

    1. I hear the blame thing often. It is so ridiculous but people feel compelled to blame someone. I am so sorry it was your children. Truth is we can’t make them help themselves and we don’t have any resources to do so. Charles was often suicidal. I only know that from his writing. He covered up well. I only found out after his death.

  3. I lost my husband to suicide and my son has been hospitalized 5 times in the last year for suicide attempts. Whenever anyone asks how I am, I tell them that a loved one’s suicide is probably the most horrible of deaths. Despite all the conversations about not blaming myself, it is so painful to know that maybe I could have done something to prevent it. I talk about how I never knew that suicide is way too common. I participate in talks about suicide and I plan to do a walk on June 5th in Philadelphia. My son just entered a 60-90 day dual diagnosis rehab program for alcoholism and mental illness. I am praying that he gets the help he so desperately needs. Yes, we have to talk about it and do everything to prevent suicides.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and your inspiration Ann. I am so sorry you are having to actively deal with the emotions related to one having died by suicide and another with suicide ideation. That is supremely difficult. I admire that you have the strength to go out and speak.

      1. Thank you Anne for this website. Charles sounds as if he was such a caring, thoughtful, and talented young man. I so feel your pain and know that you are helping many people by giving them the opportunity to share their stories. Talking about the person who died by suicide helps us to keep their memory alive.

  4. I dive into my work. Constantly. 18 hours a day. Trying to please clients. I guess that’s a form of addiction. My son wasn’t addicted to a substance. Only to narcissistic women. People pleasers should stay far away from narcissists because they are impossible to please, especially if they have a mother in law who is a narcissist on steroids. It will end in disaster if you don’t run away fast. There will still be hell to pay, though, even if you get away, thus suicide becomes their only way out (in their depressed and anxious mind), after being manipulated, belittled, and berated even if in a nice tone of voice. Still so much grief in my heart. After 21 months. No one is interested in talking about it anymore. I have to.

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