Your Story Counts

I recently did a workshop on suicide and self-injury at a conference for educators.  Although I have routinely talked about my brother’s suicide and how his death impacted our family, I went into more detail then I have in past presentations because I understand more fully now the power of sharing our stories.

Stories bring us together, humanize the “other”, and inspire us to act.

It is hard to turn a blind eye or look the other way once you hear someone’s story.*

I want to be clear that my brother’s death is only part of my story and most certainly only a part of his.  It is important but not the only part.  I know this because although I can’t tell you exactly when it happened, at some point I no longer associated Kevin’s life with the circumstances surrounding his death.

At some point my brother came back.  His love for family and music, his smile, and his laugh.  It all came back.

At some point I stopped blaming myself for not being able to stop what happened.

At some point I became aware that suicide is a result of overwhelming psychological pain and not a form of abandonment for those left behind.

At some point I realized that I no longer blamed Kevin for leaving us so abruptly because I eventually understood how hard it is to ask for help in a culture that tells us we are weak if we do.  (My hope is through the events of the last few years that this is changing…and I see the proof of that with the people I serve).

At some point I saw my grief as a catalyst to help others on the journey toward healing and resilience.

And at some point I saw the value in what happened.  My story counts.  Kevin’s story counts.

What is your story?  And at what point are you ready to share it with others? There is meaning in it not just for you but for all of us.  Your experience matters.  Your feelings are valid. Your story counts.  We all need to hear it.

*If you would like to learn more about the power of story in the context of suicide prevention learn more by listening to Sally Spencer Thomas’s TedTalk here:

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