Letter from the founder
On October 8, 2006, two weeks following my 22nd birthday, I lost my father to suicide. He did not leave a note...he did not say goodbye. My dad had been on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication for 12 years at the time of his death due to a long term struggle with depression and anxiety. I was taken by complete surprise and had not detected any warning signs.
The way to go about dealing with the complexities of my father's death seemed unfathomable to me. Things had changed so drastically, so quickly, and the one person who had always given me direction and security in my life had suddenly walked away from it. I felt abandoned, scared, and profoundly betrayed. What about my college graduation? Who would walk me down the aisle on my wedding day? Didn't he want to feel the joy of being a grandfather and hold my firstborn child in his arms? The layers of my pain were infinite. The proper path to healing was unclear. It was immediately apparent to me that the road ahead would be a difficult one, and I wasn't quite sure how to go about it.
Shortly after, I came under the crucial realization that my life did not end with my father's death, and that I was responsible for my own healing. During the following months I adopted an empowered, positive, growth-oriented attitude. I refused to look at my life as a continuation of the downfall and instead, embraced it as an opportunity for growth. I turned to art, dance, reading, and writing during this time as well as communication with family and friends to get me through the rough patches. I wrote in my journal often, as it became my way to track the progress of my healing following the loss of my father.
As I discovered how essential the component of communication was to my healing, I couldn't help but notice how frequently the topic of suicide was brushed under the rug. I found myself longing for a safe environment where I could freely share my feelings without the fear of judgment. I wanted a community of survivors that could help me understand my father, and my own healing, better.
In 2010, I created that safe space. I founded YouSpoke.org in my father's honor. Today, we continue to promote suicide awareness through creative projects that help people open up about suicide.
Through the power of our stories combined, we find:
- meaning to our life and our struggles
- a more accurate understanding of suicide and the lives that it takes
- a profound sense of hope and healing
As finding peace with my father's death has proved to be a continual process, I see no better way do this than in the company others. I hope you will join me and the YouSpoke organization in our efforts to help mold a more accepting, educated world.