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January 18, 2018

LVAC color logo

I am humbled to announce that the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center will be displaying my very first public art show in August and September of this year, just in time for Suicide Awareness Month. My exhibit is called GROUP: Faces After Suicide. I feel it’s time for the public to see what I’ve been drawing for year after year in my support group SASS-MoKan – Suicide Awareness Survivor Support. Letters to the deceased from loss survivors will also be on display. Anyone affected after a suicide will have the opportunity to write a letter at the exhibit and build on the conversation. My late husband thought he was doing me a favor when he killed himself…that seems to be a common thread amongst those who have fallen victim to depression. I’m hoping people will gain a new perspective when they see what us loss survivors have to show them. If you are still wanting to submit a letter for the exhibit please view the Letter Submission menu option on this website. 

 

January 17, 2018

The Youth Suicide Prevention Program at Tri-County Mental Health Services purchased my book for the schools in the Missouri area. This was my goal when writing the book. I wanted “Goodnight Mr. Vincent Van Gogh” to be in every school, counseling office, support group, mental health facility, funeral home, hospital..anywhere it could help. I’m proud that my NashuaElementaryfamily is part of the conversation. In this photo I’m standing with our librarian, counselor, and principal. It’s ok to talk to our little one’s too. Nashua

January 12, 2017

A survivor of suicide loss wrote me today and asked what everyone’s reaction was after I started talking openly about my husband’s suicide. I wrote that person that I do what’s right. It is never meant to hurt, but to help. For me, I could have sat quietly allowing people to secretly blame me or I could speak out for others. There are those who have been very angry and upset with what I have to say about my late husband and some choose not to believe it or even sometimes dismiss it. That is not going to stop me. For a long time, it tortured my mind when some would ignore or disappear after I would express such deep hurts, but in 2018 I’m continuing to focus on doing what’s right, just tuning out the static. I can only control me. The people you thought would be there for you sometimes aren’t, but sometimes there are really amazing people, selfless people, you least expect will come into your life..and then there are those who have been by your side the whole time..it took me a long time to see this, but I’m getting the feeling my glass is half full againribbon.png

January 7, 2018

Yesterday would have marked the 3rd year of when Brett had died had I not stopped him from killing himself that night. I thought he was already dead when I opened the door to our garage. I stood there amongst thick black exhaust, screaming his name. He got out of his car and told me to leave him alone, that he fucked everything up and he had ruined our marriage. I took the keys out of both our cars. I didn’t call the police because he was the police. I thought they wouldn’t believe me or he would get angry at me. I called his best friend, but Brett told him that I made everything up. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t think of him or what happened. I thought that was the worst pain I had ever felt, but I had no idea what was coming 4 months later. April 22nd, 2015 was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Life altering. Finding my husband dead in our garage will never be erased from my mind nor when he tried to kill himself, but I’m coping and managing it the best I can. Don’t ever think you can’t speak up if someone threatens to end their life. It may feel uncomfortable and awkward, but the alternative is far worse then anything you will ever experience.

December 8, 2017

NBC’s Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie asked the question, “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?” This question came after co-host Matt Lauer was accused of inappropriate sexual misconduct in the workplace last week. Since before then I have been struggling with that very same question about my late husband…her tv appearance only triggered me to think about that very question 100 more times a day then the usual 50 times a day. The difference between Mrs. Guthrie and I is that Matt Lauer was not her husband and the inappropriate behavior was not against her. My hurt is beyond hurt. I don’t think some of my family understands that statement. My hurt is beyond hurt. I could lie to you and tell you that Brett had no flaws…that his suicide came without warning…but I won’t do that…that is not the truth. How do I reconcile with Brett..the man I loved and had an unwavering trust and devotion in? I hear of people forgiving their abusers or finding “God,” but that is just not in the cards for me. I know that Brett was severely sick with clinical depression (and probably a multitude of over mental illnesses), but does that give him a pass on the various affairs he had over the span of our 17 years of being together? Does that give him a pass on the way he emotionally, mentally, and sexually abused me before he ended his own life? But really he emotionally and mentally abused me a lot longer than that. I struggle day to day and still sometimes from hour to hour on how I can reconcile..especially with the fact that our 17 years of togetherness were not always “bad.” There were many good times too…extremely good times. I’m 2 1/2 years out and I’m still struggling. When’s it going to give? My therapist brought up the term, “battered woman syndrome,” with me the other session. She told me that mental, emotional, and sexual abuse are considered domestic abuse too. Brett may have never hit me physically, but if you were able to see the other scars…I would be doused in them..inside and out. You know how I reconcile? I live life the best I can. I’m not sure if I’m doing things right, but I live on. Joan Rivers said it best in her book, Bouncing Back. Her husband Edgar ended his life. Ms. Rivers said, “Do what makes you feel happy and don’t give two shits what other people think.” Beautiful lady…

November 29, 2017

On the news the other night I heard the CDC report, “Research has found about 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness.” My question for the CDC is.. what about the other 10%? What else would cause someone to die by suicide? I feel like they are leaving that 10% wide open for blame. Our culture is very good about blaming others for someone’s suicide. Most people who don’t understand suicide or never been touched by suicide would look at my husband’s death and say to themselves, “I love my husband and he loves me…it would never happen to us.” I’m pretty sure those same people would be shocked to hear that I loved my husband and he loved me too. Yes, he had his problems..lots of them..but he still loved me. It is easier to blame a catalyst instead of looking into someone’s condition.

My late husband was a cop. After he killed himself I reached out to his chief twice only to be ignored…twice. Many officers view suicide as a “black mark” against the department…a weakness. It was much easier for his job to blame his suicide on “martial issues” and move on as quickly as possible..leaving me to choke in their dust. Conveniently, the police report left out the part in his suicide letter where he blamed the police department for his death. Also missing from evidence is the information on the “mysterious” black lace around my husband’s neck at the time of his death. Brett used a suicide bag to end his life and the black lace wound around his neck was also his black police shoe lace. Brett had over 20 different pairs of shoes…even had shoe laces still inside the box downstairs where he killed himself in the garage. But my husband went upstairs to his closet and chose that particular pair of shoes…his police shoes. If that doesn’t have symbolism..I don’t know what does! But I do not blame the police department. I do not blame our marriage. I do not blame myself. Brett died of a mental illness…clinical depression.

Look…I’m writing all of this tonight because the holidays can be hard, but for those surviving a suicide loss…it’s even that much harder…it’s devistating. If you are blaming yourself for your loved one’s death…don’t. If you are someone blaming another for your loved one’s death…don’t. If we keep blaming a catalyst we are never going to get people the help they deserve. Mental health and physical health need to be looked at the same way. Do we blame others for someone getting cancer? Then why would we blame ourselves for someone else’s mental illness?

Brett