What inspired you to write a book in such a competitive market?
The book was already in the works before my son passed away. It was his work and was going to be a graphic comic novel which included the illustrations he had drawn. I could not fathom how to put that in motion but my friend had written and self published her book through Authorhouse so his work became a manuscript which was actually not finished. There was enough content to publish, so I put that in print to leave the audience with an open ended idea of how the book could continue dialogue.
Tell us about your son.
My son was brilliant! He had a beautiful soul and was very humble. I learned so much from him. He had two careers before he was 21. He inspired so many people. He had many talents. Drawing, playing the guitar and piano which he both learned by ear. Driving at 15 and had a CDL license at 19. He never ceased to amaze me. He listened to everything I instructed him to do to be excellent.
How have you processed your sons suicide?
I have processed his suicide with faith, hope and peace. My faith in God and belief in eternal life, my hope in seeing him in glory and my peace that he is resting. You take it one day at a time.
Tell us about your campaign for Suicide Awareness month?
I wanted to create a collective group of photos with people in them saying “NO TO SUICIDE.” No to stigma, no to shame and any other barriers that keep people from seeking help. Cultural norms play a big part in all of this. If we knew the signs and symptoms as it relates to mental health challenges, we could help a person with early intervention and encourage them to get the help they need before signs and symptoms worsen or become critical.
How has your faith helped you through the loss of your son?
It has actually made me stronger. I didn’t know what God would use to create my purpose but I’m leaning on Him, trusting Him, praising Him and walking with Him every step of the way. God gave me an ‘amazing husband who has been my rock. The support and love is pure, real and unconditional. My son’s death happened shortly after we were married, both retiring and relocating to a new state. Nothing could have prepared me or sustained me but GOD!
Tell us about your non profit organization.
Joy Inside Tears provides resources, advocacy, support and educational training in mental health and suicide prevention to communities and organizations. The name came to me when I was listening to the song “Joy Inside My Tears,” by Stevie Wonder. The song said everything that resonated with the way I felt about what God and the peace he had given me in spite of my loss. I hope to instill Joy inside the tears that many families have had to endure with the loss and recovery of loved ones.
Thoughts of suicide can be frightening. But by reaching out for help or checking in with family and friends, we can avoid devastating outcomes.
According to the CDC and NIMH, nearly 46,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2020 alone. Comments or thoughts about suicide, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin small — for example, “I wish I wasn’t here” or “Nothing matters.” But over time, they can become more explicit and dangerous.
Here are a few other warning signs of suicide:
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If you or a loved one starts to take any of these steps, seek immediate help from a health care provider or call 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:
- Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
- Giving away possessions
- Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
If you are unsure, a licensed mental health professional can help assess.
Research has found that 46% of people who die by suicide had a known mental health condition. Several other factors may put a person at risk of suicide, including but not limited to:
- A family history of suicide
- Substance use: Drugs can create mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts.
- Intoxication: Analysis from the CDC indicates around 1 in 5 people who die by suicide had alcohol in their system at the time of death.
- Access to firearms
- A serious or chronic medical illness
- Gender: Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are 4x more likely to die by suicide.
- A history of trauma or abuse
- Prolonged stress
- A recent tragedy or loss
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