Putting my life back together after my best friend’s suicide

Hannah Flanery and Emily Barnhardt

by Emily Barnhardt

If had to choose a phrase that encapsulates my story and the pain and suffering I’ve experienced, it would be: “collateral beauty.”

Several years ago, I lost my best friend (who was also my roommate) to suicide. It turned my world upside down.

There are no words to explain the devastating grief that washes over you after a complex loss like suicide; it’s as unpredictable and relentless as waves crashing over the seashore. I wrestled with the never-ending questions and the monstrous-of-all questions, “why?” I broke time and time again over the … Read more...

Billy Derr’s Story

Jenny Derr and Billy Derr

By Jenny Derr, his mother

In April of 2016, our 24-year-old son, Billy was visiting us in Richmond. We had a good weekend–he was engaged, laughing, and spending a lot of time with us, which is not the typical behavior of someone in active addiction.

He had relapsed in October 2015, after a year and a half of sobriety, and seemed to be back on the right track. He was enrolled at Boston University taking two classes and he loved living in Beacon Hill. He flew back to Boston on a Tuesday morning, I took … Read more...

Kelly’s story about her son, Aubrey

by Kelly

Back in 2016 my 19-year-old son Aubrey who has struggled and started having seizures due to Xanax abuse stopped taking his anti seizure medication because he didn’t like what he had read about it!

Yet, smoking pot, dabs, molly, etc. is OK?

Shortly after that, he convinced us he would take the medication. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t – who knows. But right after that we found him badly impaired and he attacked my husband who had to defend himself and hit him back (not characteristic of my husband at all but Aubrey pushed him down and … Read more...

Dawson Pettit’s Story

by Laurie Pettit

My son Dawson, my first child, was born February 13, 1988. He was such a happy baby and he grew up in the Wyndham area of Short Pump. He loved school, his friends, his pets and his family–especially his cousin Grayson.

Dawson played little league baseball, YMCA basketball, travel soccer with Richmond Strikers, and he was a brown belt in Karate. He later played Lacrosse, and tennis and golf through High school. Dawson did well in school and was accepted into Deep Run’s Center for Information Technology, his home school and where his friends were.

When the … Read more...

Thoughts on Chris Cornell’s Suicide

by Alyssa Ward, Phd,  LCP

I’ve been thinking about Chris Cornell’s suicide a lot. I had a conversation with one of my best friends about this yesterday and I felt the urge to share. Let me say first, I don’t know if Cornell was depressed–we don’t know what was going on or all the drivers, but my friend was asking why people want to die.

Several thoughts

As I tell the teenagers suffering with depression every week–depression is a trickster. Depression is a narcissist. When depression takes residence it’s like the person is inhabited by someone who is not their … Read more...

Neico Hayden’s amazing story of surviving a suicide attempt #Neicostrong

From Anne Moss: If someone tells you something about suicide, please take it seriously. Do not keep it “secret.” This is not to shed blame. We all overlook signs of suicide. What I’m asking you to do is to pay attention and be there. Make the call and warn a mom, a friend, a relative. 

I met Neico  Hayden (pronounced NEEKO) at the James River Out of the Darkness walk in May 2017. I saw him and his family in the parking lot and walked over to them. I had no idea he was a recent suicide survivor until his Read more...

Suffering from suicidal thoughts since age 12

Note from Anne Moss: I am continuing in a series of posts from my most engaged readers. Like many who suffer, a strong faith can help.  As an advocate, I would be remiss if I didn’t add that a good support system, whether that includes faith, friendship, family, therapy, or even medication, can also work well. It depends on the individual. This one from Michael, who has lived experience.  

by Michael Widuch

I suffered suicidal thoughts first when I was 12 years old in the school year of 2003-2004 due to an unstable special needs school environment and unhealthy family … Read more...

Joshua Giannini leaves video suicide letters of love

By Diane Fielder McCormick

joshua

Note from Anne Moss: I sent an email to my most engaged readers and asked if they wanted to share their story. Diane responded right away and has shared with all of us the final videos from her son. They are a gift. And they are heartbreaking.  But they are also something else. It shows that even in the darkest hour, your loved one loved you.

Suicide, addiction, and depression have a very close relationship. More than 90% of people who fall victim to suicide suffer from depression, have or substance abuse disorder, or both. Depression Read more...

Jule’s review on S-Town Podcast

Note from Anne Moss: Jule is a 16-year-old from Germany who contacted me a while back to post this #griefheart for her friend Christian who died by suicide. This is her third contribution to this site. 

By Jule

(Major spoilers for the S-Town podcast ahead)

I read the “13 Reasons Why” book in 2011 and so naturally I watched the 13RW show right after it came out, ignoring all the trigger warnings concerning people who have been suicidal and having a trauma connected to suicide (because I have both).

Luckily for me, it worked fine and did not trigger … Read more...

Allie’s Opinion on ’13 Reasons Why’ #13RW

by Allie

From Anne Moss: Allie is a senior in high school from Chapel Hill, NC who has struggled with managing mental illness and suicidal thoughts. Here’s what she said about the show, ’13 Reasons Why’ on Netflix. She and her mother have given permission for it to be posted here. 

“At first I liked the show, I read the book a few times in middle school and I liked it then–when I was first really starting to struggle with mental illness.

As I began watching the show this week [April 9, 2017] I found myself starting to feel a … Read more...