Suicide has a different effect on a family than other causes of death. There is a stigma surrounding suicide and it makes everything so awkward. My family has seen the good bad and ugly of suicide. To tell you the truth, I haven’t seen much good except letting others know and being aware of what can happen. The bad and the ugly have been a big part of our family life.

When Jay took his own life I didn’t know for a few weeks. Then we decided we would keep it a secret. I didn’t want my kids to think this was a good option of how to end things. I didn’t tell them for another few years and then the grief started all over again. Also his siblings and parents didn’t want the word to get out. I didn’t either- there is this weird thing that happens when someone decides to take their own life. There is a hush. Nobody dares to talk about it or ask questions about it. I have only talked to his dad about it once in 10 years. It’s not healthy. Secrets aren’t healthy and the heartache surrounding suicide is awful- especially when you don’t have any support.

The secret of Jay taking his own life created a lot of unrest in our family and his extended family. Actually, some of his relatives are only finding out that he took his own life now- after a decade. It’s sad to me. I don’t think it should take from what he was as a person on this earth. People don’t want to talk about him and so it’s like his life has been lost. His life wasn’t all bad. His life wasn’t even partway bad. He had depression which I don’t think he was aware of but most of the time- out in the world he was a good-looking, hard-working normal human being. We hall have health issues or things that make us feel different- why is depression or suicide looked down upon so much?

When I started to tell others that Jay took his own life it created quite an uproar. I had told my children and family members that after a few years, I would tell the truth about how he passed. The story we had been telling had so many holes in it and it didn’t make sense and it made me feel less and less connected with anyone. I couldn’t feel close to anyone and not tell them about this huge part of my life, so I put myself in a bubble. That bubble was not a good place. Finally, I burst it and started to tell my close friends that yes, Jay left a note and had taken his own life in the desert that day. Since I had distanced myself from so many, it is still hard to connect with some of them. There were a lot of rumors surrounding his death and I decided I would protect his name by keeping it a secret. I don’t believe it did anyone good. I heard the truth will set you free and it has in some ways, but not in all because this truth was painful. It’s taken me a decade of learning and professional help to get to the healthy happy place where I am now. I am grateful for where I am today and for the experiences, I have had – good and bad because they have made me the person I am today. But this doesn’t mean that all of our family feels the same way. Everyone has their own thoughts on it, feeling blame, guilt, and heartache. Some of them don’t talk to me or each other. Jay committing suicide has been a real damper on most of our relationships. I think the stigma has a lot to do with that and there are real effects of suicide.

I am hoping I can take my part in helping with the stigma that surrounds suicide by telling my story. Suicide is sad and makes people not want to talk about it, but a lot of things in life are sad. That doesn’t mean we need to shut down. I want others to know I hear you, I see you, and your life is important. You matter. Every individual is important and we are all in this together.

the real effects of suicide