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The One Thing I'm Asking of Suicide Loss Survivors

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I’ve made a commitment.

I need one from you.

On behalf of my son Charles who died by suicide, I am carrying on a tradition he handed down to me — and that is to reach out.

I believe survivors of suicide loss and those who have lost a child or loved one to overdose need to say the words suicide, mental illness, addiction and drug overdose.

Don’t soften it, sugar coat it or hide behind it.

If we do, we carry on a tradition of shame instead of acknowledging our loved ones struggled from an illness. Those illnesses will continue to carry stigma if we don’t talk.

It has to start with us. We have all lost something very precious and we owe it to our loved ones to honor their memories and their struggle.

With heroin deaths and suicides at epidemic levels, there are, unfortunately, a lot of us suffering a devastating loss. Too many.

There are also a lot of people out there still struggling with depression and addiction. We can help. We can curb the losses.

Only we have traveled the entire path to the most devastating ending we could ever imagine.

That knowledge, that hurt and that passion are all very valuable.

You didn’t want it or ask for it. But you have it now. Nobody can rally for this cause like we can.

There is power in numbers and collectively we can inspire a change in our vocabulary and bring stigmatized illnesses out into the open. I know many of us already are.

Start by using the words.

Mental illness. Addiction. Died by suicide. Drug overdose.

We’ve done the silent thing and look where that’s gotten us. So let’s hit it head on and make a dent.

It is a pledge I believe we all need to make. It is an opportunity to educate. It is a legacy for your loved one. Most importantly, it will save lives, inspire others to get help and open up resources and change.

If those in recovery from mental illness and/or addiction want to join us, we’d love to have you. Friends of ours who have supported us in grief, you can be there to share and shout.

So, who’s with me?

text reads; You have a voice. How are you going to use it?

Follow this journey on

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally published: April 29, 2016
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