Live Video: Steve Austin - Pastor and Suicide Prevention Advocate

1
1
0

Steve Austin is a pastor and suicide prevention advocate who recently published his first book, “From Pastor to a Psych Ward.”
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

1
1
0

RELATED VIDEOS

TOPICS
Live Video
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

I Cannot Fully Understand How My Son's Suicide Affects His Little Brother

8
8
0

On January 14, 2016, our 16-year-old son Brian died by suicide.

Shortly after we lost Bri, Jeffrey, our 10-year-old son, lay in bed crying. We started talking, and I told him I understand what he is going through and that we are always here to listen/talk. He said, “Mom, you just don’t understand. I know you lost a son, but I lost my big brother.” Just typing that made me gag on my tears. I wanted to tell him, I do know. Sixteen years ago I lost my little brother, also to suicide. Twelve years ago I lost my mother to depression.

But no, he is right, I don’t understand. I do not want to diminish what he is feeling. They had an incredible bond. They were brothers. Thick as thieves.

They would play this wild game. They called it “Billy Goat’s Gruff.” One would get under the pool table, and the other would have to try to make it around without getting caught. If they got caught it turned into a full out wrestling match. Personally, I think they both liked getting caught.

Shooting baskets out back, playing PS4, watching “Ghost Stories,” watching silly Vines… There are so many things they shared.

They would go out and jump on the trampoline, and I can’t tell you how many times I would look out the kitchen window and they would be laying there just talking. Sometime in February we had a big windstorm and our trampoline blew across the yard. It was ruined. I haven’t had the heart yet to replace it and neither of my children have asked.

I was just in cleaning Jeffrey’s room. He has a chalkboard painted on his wall. About two years ago, Bri wrote on it, “Brian loves you” and he signed his name. It is still there.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Follow this journey on Because of Brian.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Ben_Gingell

8
8
0
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

When Bipolar Disorder Is a Balancing Act

18
18
0

I’m going to share something that is so counterintuitive that my credibility will probably be in question. I had a travel day for work today. It was only a little more than an hour away I had to drive to my appointment. It was a beautiful, crisp morning. By the time I had to get on the road, all the frost had disappeared in the glistening sun. My iPod was plugged in, and I was ready. My impending appointment wasn’t stressful. So my anxiety was rather low.

I live in northern California in what many people would probably define as a rural area. I was able to travel this distance without getting on the freeway. I took notice of the black, brown and Oreo colored cows standing on the hillside. I could see reflections in the standing pond water off to the side of the road. I felt the sunshine insulating my car window. Dare I say, I felt at peace.

I’ve been focusing on being grateful, forging a connection with a higher power and allowing myself to believe I belong in this world. Just about four weeks ago, I didn’t believe this and landed in the psychiatric hospital. Just about four weeks ago, I had a solid plan that I was ready and prepared to carry out. Yet, four long weeks later I’m back at work and enjoying this drive. Bipolar disorder has got nothin’ on me.

As I leisurely take in the view up ahead, I picture myself take my hands of the wheel and glide through the air. Arms out to the side like one might do on a bicycle, I think I want to feel this contentment forever. The only possible way that could happen is to veer into oblivion.

The urge to carry out this fantasy becomes overwhelming. My heart starts racing. My thoughts start racing. My vision blurry. Panic attack. I pull over as soon as I can to gather myself and my breathing. I always leave early. I’m sure you can understand why.

Soon, I turn on my signal, and I begin my road trip again. I practice what I will say when I arrive. I practice what they will say. I turn on some mellow music, sink into my seat and remind myself I’m OK.

After my appointment I meet a co-worker for lunch. I do not mention the earlier incident. I prepare for my return drive home. I reach out to my higher power and mumble a few words into the car. Again, some sort of comfort comes over me. I notice my surroundings. I take it slow and don’t feel rushed to get home.

It’s that feeling of peace surrounding me, enticing me, promising me what I perceive as freedom. If I died right now, then I could actually say I was at peace. Seconds later, I pulled in front of a semi-truck barreling down the road. He blared his horn as I narrowly made it through the intersection. I didn’t panic. I didn’t seem to care.

Holding on to a positive feeling can be challenging in this world. For my brain with bipolar disorder, it’s seemingly impossible. I shoot up, then careen down with all that lies in between. This was all in the span of six hours.

How could someone who thinks they feel “at peace,” such a coveted feeling, put herself in harm’s way at the same time? I don’t really know. It’s completely counterintuitive. I’ll tell ya, it’s the truth. It’s not hard to want to feel good, content and at peace. Yet, with bipolar disorder, everything is a balancing act.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock.

18
18
0
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

A Memoir of a Man Who Dared Greatly, Then 'Slipped Away'

2
2
0

Slipped Away” is a celebration of the life of Steve Tarpinian, my soulmate, best friend and the love of my life for more than 33 years. At the age of 54, Steve took his own life on March 15, 2015 in Sedona, Arizona, the day after checking out of a one-month stay at an inpatient mental health facility there.

After he died, I didn’t want Steve to be forgotten. I wanted him to be remembered not only as a good athlete, a great coach and a visionary entrepreneur who laid the foundation for the sport of triathlon on Long Island. More importantly, I wanted him to be remembered most as a kind, compassionate man who tried his best to help people and in the process, profoundly impacted the lives of many in positive ways both in sport and in life. This, I believe, is Steve’s true legacy. Thus, the telling of Steve’s story became a big part of my grief journey.

“Slipped Away” had its origins in the daily Facebook postings I made about Steve in the weeks following his death. My friends told me I should write a book as they loved reading my anecdotes about life with Steve. Since I didn’t consider myself a writer and knew nothing about publishing, I decided to channel my grief into creating a Shutterfly photo book, which I now call my first edition of the eventually published “Slipped Away.” The hours I spent creating this photo book gave me a respite from the crushing grief I was dealing with.

After I finished the photo book, I felt I was ready to publish something. Since I still didn’t feel like a  writer, my thought was to publish a children’s book based on the true short story Steve had written about the mice that came into our home after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. However, I felt that I wanted to do more than write a children’s book, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what I wanted to do. Eventually, in June of 2015, my true purpose for writing Steve’s memoir became apparent to me. I wanted to carry on Steve’s legacy in such a way that he could still help people even though he is no longer with us. I believe the telling of his story will inspire conversation about suicide and mental illness.

In the early days after Steve died, I did not want to talk about Steve’s suicide and was adamant with a local reporter that he could not publish the cause of death. I was telling people that Steve died in his sleep. Then, I realized I was guilty of propagating the stigma with my silence about the true cause of Steve’s death and re-enforcing the shame associated with suicide. We, as a society, are OK with talking about other causes of death. We do not feel embarrassment when one of those illnesses may be the cause of death for a loved one. The same is not usually true for suicide.

In years past, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS were stigmatized. Society has made tremendous strides since then. Due to awareness campaigns, there is less embarrassment around talking about these illnesses, which I believe has resulted in more treatment options and those who struggle now have more hope.

We need to get to that point with mental illness. Until we as a society can talk openly and freely about suicide and mental illness, things will not change. Yes, progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go.

Steve, like so many others, had a disease that was unseen, and like so many others who are similarly affected, his anguish was further exacerbated by trying to hide his pain. So many people were shocked that Steve took his own life. Many thought Steve “had it all” as he was handsome, athletic, intelligent, well loved and successful in business.

a photo of a man in swimming gear cropped into a page of text

Although I knew he struggled, I had no idea to what extent. I never would have thought he would take his own life. Steve was my pillar of strength, my rock. I believed he would be able to win his war against his demons. If I only knew then what I know now…

Steve will continue to help others even though he is no longer with us. The proceeds of his memoir are donated to Project 9 LINE, a nonprofit organization of veterans helping other veterans by offering outlets in the arts to those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

And so, my grief journey continues, along with my mission to carry on the legacy of a man who dared greatly.

Follow my journey on Slipped Away.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock.

2
2
0
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Live Video: Frank Warren - Founder of PostSecret

4
4
0

Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret, is known as “the world’s most trusted stranger.” He’s live now sharing the importance of secrets during National Suicide Prevention Week.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

4
4
0
TOPICS
Live Video
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Live Video: Brett Wean - Comedian and Mental Health Activitst

0

Brett Wean is an actor, comedian/improviser, and the Senior Communications Writer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

0
TOPICS
Live Video
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

8,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.