May is mental health awareness month. Since 2016 I have been volunteering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to do what I can to help prevent suicide and to support those who have been affected by suicide as I was following my mother’s 1985 death.
By working on my documentary, The Silent Goldens, I have been able to heal a lot of the unresolved grief stemming from my loss by opening up conversations with my family about it since we collectively went silent right after it happened. For years I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, partly because of the stigma associated with suicide, but more because we just didn’t. I was terrified to open up the conversations, but only good came out of it, making all interactions with my family easier.
By being open about my loss, I have allowed others to open up to me about their own, which is cathartic for all. I have made many friends in the suicide world and always feel purposeful doing the work.
AFSP has launched a new initiative #talkawaythedark with tools, resources, and creative ways to learn the warning signs and the risk factors and to have open and real conversations on this topic. Information can be found here. https://talkawaythedark.afsp.org/
As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety for a lifetime, I know asking for help is one of the hardest things you can do, but doing so can truly be life-changing. As a survivor of suicide loss, I know there is no better way to deal with it than talking. There is no shame.