5 years after my son, Charles, died by suicide

killed himself

My new life, my new normal, started the moment I heard the phrase, “Your son Charles has been found dead this morning….” My life was split in two–before he died and after he died. Every picture I see or memory I have goes into one of those categories.

Five years after Charles’s suicide, I am still stunned he killed himself. However, those with lived experience have helped me understand by sharing their stories and allowing me to listen when they are in their darkest places. Charles’s music filled in a lot of blanks. My own writing helped me find other answers.

I don’t really know exactly how I survived this tragedy. To be honest, I’m still surviving it. It has no ending. No one reaches a point one day and declares their grief over. There is no certificate that marks a healing milestone, or trophies for having your soul dragged over broken glass. Hallmark doesn’t have a card that says, “Congratulations. You survived five years after your son’s death.”

Along the way, there have been periods of anger, helplessness, relief, and resentfulness. I visited bitterness sporadically. Sadness was and still is part of that journey. Love, hope, and joy are, too.

What propels me to move forward is an innate sense of wanting to keep my son’s spirit alive. If I had to give Charles up, I have to make it count. Make him count. Because he mattered.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide 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, 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.

25 thoughts on “5 years after my son, Charles, died by suicide”

  1. Anne, I’m thinking of you and praying for you and your family today. You have helped so many people through Charles, and your wisdom has comforted many. Love and hugs to you today.

  2. I have felt heartache this week as the anniversary of Charle’s death approached. You have given the gift of your heart to many people who have suffered from The loss of loved ones. My love to you, Randy, Richard and the family and friends who are missing Charles today.

  3. I am currently reading Anne Moss Rogers’ book, “Diary of a Broken Brain.” What an amazing, larger-than-life personality he was! He was talented and gifted in so many ways, and he had good, loving parents. What is clear from his life and from life of so many others who die this way is that we are failing our kids. The education system fails by trying to put all kids in the same mold. Mental health care fails by relying too heavily on medications. Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, head of SAMHSA quotes statistics showing that about 7% of 18-25 year olds suffer from a severe mental illness. Jenny, who commented about, I am so sorry to hear about your son, too. You didn’t even have a premonition of his depression. Plus he seemed to be headed to a wonderful medical career — it makes no sense. There is a new book out called “The Angel and the Assassin” which has information that offers the potential for new ways to treat mental health issues. I strongly recommend reading it.

  4. Thinking of you, Randy, Richard and everyone else that knows Charles this week. I have felt my heart ache all week as today approached. You have done a tremendous gift to others by sharing your heart.

  5. You are the keeper of his memory. And we will never forget the boy we never knew. Love you always, but on these days more than ever.

  6. Thinking of you on this anniversary and hoping your precious memories comfort you and your family. Your readers are appreciative of all you do to support those who suffer and struggle.

  7. I’ve learned from you, Charles and the many brave individuals who have shared their stories. Thanks for making it count.

  8. We’re newcomers to world of being survivors of suicide. It will be 8 months on June 18 since our son took his life. He went from living his dream to ending his life in four months. I keep looking at his life trying to figure out what precipitated this change. His wedding anniversary was yesterday. Four years ago June 4 was one of the happiest days of our (and his) lives. He had graduated at the top of his class at UVA Medical School and would be doing his internal medicine residency at Duke on his way to becoming an interventional cardiologist. He always had this amazing way to focus on his goals while still having lots of friends and fun. Everyone adored him and he was known for his wonderful sense of humor and his compassion. He married the love of his life after dating for 9 years.

    After finishing his residency he went to UNC to begin his cardiology fellowship. Everything was going just the way he wanted it. In September he called me (in Tennessee) and told me he was feeling suicidal. When we got there he said he knew we’d be there for him and how much he loved us. He said he knew how devastating it would be for his wife and us if he ended his life and that he could never do that to us. We had no idea he had been having any issues with depression. His wife was with her sister at the beach (at his insistence). We got to Chapel Hill as fast as we could – he waited for us. He was able to take a leave of absence from the program and was seeing a therapist and psychiatrist. He had been taking an anti depressant for about a month when the suicidal ideation began. We can’t help but think that he might have been one of those people whose suicidal feelings were brought on by the very medication he used to feel better. We returned home after several days feeling very worried but thinking that he was going to be okay. We spoke almost daily and after three weeks he went back to work. He said he was so glad to be back at work and we planned to meet for the weekend of October 18th in Asheville. Thursday we were texting about what to do and where to have dinner that weekend. Friday morning he went home after his wife left for work and ended his life. We buried his ashes on the birthday he shared with his twin sister, November 11.

    Sometimes the pain is so bad I can’t breathe, sometimes I feel his presence so close by. We’re so profoundly sad but trying to hold it together for our daughters. I know from losing my father very suddenly and unexpectedly that grief will mellow over time but right now everything is so raw. Losing a child at any age is something that no parents should ever have to endure and losing a child to suicide – there are no words. I’m comforted by knowing that he knew how much we loved him and I know he loved us the same way. I also know we’ll be together again someday. I miss my beautiful baby.

    1. I read every word of your story. Twice. I went to UNC and I’m orginally from NC. My son had an incident when he was 15. He said the same thing your son said. That he couldn’t do it to us. But I think that those thoughts come on with such intensity there is just not enough time between thought and action. He had such a promising future. But it just speaks to how those brain attacks alter normal thinking. It’s not a moment of rational thinking. And it took me a long time and hundreds of conversations with those who have lived experience to start to understand. And it was my son’s music that really showed us how he felt and how he hid those intense feelings which is why I included them in my book. We had no idea. I’m so very sorry Jenny. It’s so recent and I know you are crestfallen. If you ever want me to publish this as a post, I’d be honored. All I’d need is a picture of your precious son. Thank you for telling your story. I struck a cord.

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