My LinkedIn network is the largest network that I have. I have connected with some amazing people over the years through work, church, speaking engagements, volunteer organizations, and board leadership. Most of you know my passion for coaching and developing the next generation of leaders-motivated by my 30-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.
Did you know that I am a child of suicide?
“The first man I ever loved killed himself…” is the first line of the book that I am writing about WHO I am and WHY I am so committed to loving others. Did you know that my father (the first man I ever loved) was an Air Force veteran described as inexplicably wise for a man of color in the 60s? Folklore says that his genius caused him to not want to live anymore… I will never know his “why”, but writing this book helps me to understand mine. It also means that I need the masses to understand what happens to those left behind.
#Suicide is a taboo subject; it’s hard to find a sermon about it at church, it’s not mentioned in most organization’s employee handbooks, and it is surely not fodder for hair salon conversation or the topic of Happy Hour discussions with your friends.
Spoiler Alert: people left behind after suicide feel the effects for generations to come. In the book, I talk about how I lost my mother 20 years later due to her inability to deal with my dad’s suicide and her lack of access to #mentalhealth resources and support. Survivor’s guilt is real. I feel the impact even today in my relationships, my parenting, and even my leadership style.
I’ve trying to write a book for several years and haven’t been able to get the story told the way it needed to be. Why? Shame, pride, and fear of the impact on both my and my children’s “image” are a few of the excuses I’ve used. Only after divorce, three years of therapy sessions, self-healing, and the love of my network, friends, and family, have I come to the realization that my story isn’t about the fact that I lead with peace and light. My story is about WHY I lead and love that way. Through homelessness, group homes, foster homes, friends that “adopted” me and took me in as their own, I have been blessed by others my entire life. I receive(d) from them what I wanted from my dad: the peace of mind that his taking his own life wasn’t my fault and the realization that the light that others saw in me would shine bright even if I couldn’t see it myself.
It’s #NationalSuicidePreventionWeek. It’s a tough week for me. The news of an Air Force base taking time to investigate the uptick in suicides was triggering for me. It is also the best time to announce that I have decided to publish “After The Suicide: Leading With Love and Light” on 12/19/19 and I’m hoping to save at least ONE life. If I can show the pain and struggle of what happens after suicide, surely some lives will be changed.
This story is much bigger than my pain.
Today, check in on your “strong/smart/has it all together” friends and family members. They may be fighting a battle that you know nothing about.
Let’s end this hold that suicide has on our generation and the generations to come.
Here are some resources:
Anxiety and depression association of America: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/suicide
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
American Foundation for suicide prevention: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/
Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net
Hope For The Warriors: https://www.hopeforthewarriors.org
Teen Mental Health Assembly | Positive and Unique: https://www.youcannotbereplaced.com
Department of Defense Education Activity: https://www.dodea.edu/suicidePrevention
Military Crisis Line: www.militarycrisisline.net
Once A Soldier: https://onceasoldier.org/soldier-suicide-prevention-tips
Directing Change Program – Mental Health Films for Youth: https://www.directingchangeca.org
First Responder: https://www.sprc.org/settings/first-responders
Suicide prevention resources for first responders – PoliceOne: https://www.policeone.com