We would like to hear your story, whether it’s your personal struggle with depression and anxiety or you are the loved one of someone who has suffered.
Submitted by Wendy on 09/16/2017
I was so saddened to read about the loss of your precious son and brother Pete to suicide, but also grateful for all you are doing to honor his memory. I lost my 16-year-old son T.J. to suicide on December 1, 2010. T.J. was an amazing young man—a gifted athlete, honors student, friend to many and loved by all who were lucky enough to know him. But sadly, despite his beautiful outward smile he battled depression and we ran out of time trying to get him the help he so desperately needed. We never understood suicide was something we needed to be concerned. I believe with all my heart that no one should die by suicide and we can all do much to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health disorders like depression. There is no doubt you are saving lives through the work you are doing.
Sending much love, friendship and T.J. hugs, Wendy Sefcik https://www.rememberingtj.org
Never Talking About It
Submitted by Linda on 12/21/2016
Any family is fortunate if they are willing to deal with a tragedy like suicide openly and bravely. Sadly, my father never believed his son would do such a thing and was in denial despite the coroner’s conclusive report that nobody could accidentally take 36-40 pills. He believed it was an accidental suicide, and therefore, we never talked about what happened.
We had to stuff down this family tragedy for 16 years until my father passed away this year. Now with the sudden passing of my other brother in October, I wonder If we will ever bring it out of the closet, or if it would do more harm than good at this point. How much more can my mother take? I admire any parents with the courage to lead their family through what is, surely, the most horrific experience a family is (suddenly) forced to share. We were never able to do that as a family and were all left to heal on our own—still are.
Take heart that your family, because of their wisdom, can grieve as one and begin the healing process.
A Family’s Loss
Submitted by Judy on 12/21/2016
We are so sorry to hear about your loss of Pete; please know that we are praying for him and all of your family.
We suffered the same loss on October 24, 2016 when our son, Benjamin, took his life at the age of 33. He also had been “successful” in the eyes of the world: a loving brother to his eight siblings, a loving son to his parents, and a loving uncle, cousin, nephew, and friend. He was a leader who was considerate, helpful, and very funny.
He had completed his bachelor’s degree in nursing, and had been working for five years at a large hospital as a supervisor in the cardio-thoracic ICU. He loved his job, and his patients and coworkers loved him. We had seen past signs of depression, but had no idea that his condition had reached a level that he could no longer endure. We know that he is in God’s loving hands, and we know that we will see him again. Today countless young people are fighting depression, and we thank you for working to help them and to remove the social stigmas associated with depression and suicide.
A Mother’s Loss
Submitted by Susan on 12/21/2016
To the Jones Family,
I have read of your insufferable loss in your local paper and I felt compelled to support your new endeavor as well as share our family story.
Your Pete and our Carolyn were kindred spirits in so many ways. Carolyn died from suicide October 30, 2013.
She suffered from mental illness including depression and anxiety. And Like Pete she was so sweet and so smart in school, attaining a BA from Rollins College cum laude, and been accepted to a master’s program in California and U of L.
Amazingly, Carolyn was also an identical twin. Her sister Catherine has a loss unknown even to me as a parent, so my heart aches again for your Matt.
Also, like your family has decided, we kept Carolyn home at our house and welcomed all who wanted to pay their respects here. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I admire your strength and forbearance and I would like to contribute to the Pete foundation, whose mission is critical. While I am skeptical depression can be eliminated, I am sure the stigma associated with it can be.
My heart feels for your family now, and my prayers for your healing are with you. Your family will be your greatest source going forward, as going forward is the only way.
Thank You for Establishing this Foundation
Submitted by Susan on 01/08/2017
Our son Michael died from suicide at age 26 in March 2015. When I read Pete’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times, I cried and cried. Michael, too, was a brilliant young man whose passion was in the culinary world. He attended culinary school, worked as a server in Michelin starred restaurants, and had passed two levels of the sommelier exam. He had demons with him that we never totally understood. He was fastidious about his physical health, but despite many years of contact with mental health professionals and two years away in a residential treatment school during high school, he could not talk about the demons that I know plagued him for years. I am a physician, recently retired, and my hope is to do work in the medical community to raise awareness about risk factors for suicide, resources for those who can be identified at risk and for significant others who have been devastated by a loss. Thank you for acting so quickly in working to help.
Submitted by Anonymous on 12/21/2016
When people say, I can’t imagine that, I can’t imagine ever being in a place where suicide is the only option. I can. Because I’ve bee there. The majority of people will never feel that, and therefore, can never understand it.
Depression is equal opportunity. It doesn’t care who you are. It isn’t always the kid who wears black, who’s anti-social. So many with depression are the opposite of stereotype, they’re popular, smart, social, well adjusted. The last one you would think.
Because depression is a silent disease. And it is a disease, just like me diabetes, or hypertension. But it’s often felt as shameful, hidden. And for those of you judge others for missing the signs, it’s often impossible for anyone to see them. To live with this disease, many have no idea how good a person becomes at hiding it. It’s years of perfecting a smile, and “I’m fine.” And it’s likely very convincing.
Yes, I’ve been there. And what you’re left with is, what could I have done, how could I have stopped it. Nothing, and you couldn’t have. We hang in for so long as to not hurt the people around us. To cause them pain. It’s not selfish, it’s simply the only answer seen.
A Family Without Hope
Submitted by Paula on 12/21/2016
Ironically, Pete’s obituary in the LATimes caught my eye this morning. Something about the handsome young man in the photo, the smile, the date of birth, drew my attention. Please accept the condolences of a stranger in California.
It was ironic because last night, my 23 year old tried to commit suicide for the third time in 13 months. Her diagnosis would take to long to describe but it has been the anxiety of the last month that probably prompted this latest episode of turmoil. My heart feels like it is encased in stone.
Hope fled my soul last night when she accused me (as usual). I want my life to be my own again. I want to feel love for her again. I want this terrible, heart-wrenching, 24 hour a day worrying to be over. I want this feeling of doom to be over. Sometimes I just want my life to be over.
She has borderline personality disorder and I have suffered from depression. I need to be off this ride but I have no hope that it will end, except in a crash of personalities that she has made toxic.
Submitted by Paula on 12/21/2016
Warning: this is not “light” reading.
For many years of Facebook sharing I have wanted to share my struggles of depression and suicide. However, the shame, stigma, and a variety reasons that seem insignificant today stopped me from pushing the post button. Unfortunately/fortunately today I talked with a family that had a loved one commit suicide. They had written an incredibly brave obituary for this young man, and our conversation led me to share a bit more than is comfortable, but that is okay if it helps one person. Depression can take many forms, and for some creeps up slowly, others it hits like a tidal wave of darkness.
For me, I learned early in my life to just go “quiet” when I felt “low”, and I stayed in my barn a lot. It was my happy place. Fast forward to a variety of major life changes, including marriage to the wrong person, the deaths of my grandmother and mother, and feeling like I was the worst parent ever. The tidal wave of darkness hit me; all I wanted was the pain to end. I truly thought my family and world would be better off without me, so I tried really hard to end my life. Frank came home several hours earlier than I expected, and it was not my time to die in 2003. Looking in my son’s eyes, to see the pain I caused him, the fear of everyone close by me, and the incredible shame I felt, I couldn’t stay in Louisville. What would people say if they saw my scars? I was referred to an amazing place in California, where after five months I felt like I could handle the darkness that is depression with help and tools, and came back home.
For me, I need medication to keep my chemicals in check, so that the tidal wave of darkness doesn’t overtake me ever again. I volunteered on the crisis and suicide line for 18 months, and when someone says to me that I don’t know what it feels like to want to end your life, I can honestly answer “yes”, I do know and understand. For anyone whose life has been touched by suicide, I want you to know that there isn’t anything that you could have said or done to change things. It isn’t your fault, and yes, I speak from experience. I am incredibly grateful for my life, and all that I can do to help others.