What a blessing to be his Mom! The only greater tragedy would be to have never had a Kurt in our lives at all. He died from depression, but we had no idea that was a possibility. And if we had ever made the connection between suicide and depression, we most likely wouldn't have had enough information to get beyond the "that would never happen to us" syndrome, due to lack of education and readily available information. In the months following the death of my son, I searched relentlessly to understand what happened, how this could happen, and why...As I gathered research, reading article after article on depression I was floored to realize all the details about depression that we didn't know, all the information that we weren't armed with to fight this illness. If my son had cancer, wouldn't I have taken him to a "specialist"? Wouldn't I have wanted more than one doctor's opinion and treatment plan? We didn't understand depression to be a serious health concern. In fact, we were treating his depression as if he had high blood pressure...take your medicine everyday and you should be fine.
I refuse to allow Kurt to be defined by the way he left this world; he was so much more than that! He was a son, a brother, a friend, and boyfriend, a football player, a rugby player, a comedian….He lived, He laughed and He loved!
I now belong to a club I would have never signed up for or wished upon a single living person—Survivors of Suicide Loss!
My response to the loss of my son is not the average response. We each process grief differently. My response was a charge to make a difference, a call to action, in honor of my son. I couldn't fight for him in his illness any longer, but I can fight for him in memory and heart. This is my battle with depression; I cannot wrap my hands around depression and “take it out” for taking my son, so I had to find another avenue to wage a war against depression.
In the year following Kurt's death, I found AFSP (based in New York) and realized that Indiana had no presence of AFSP—that was my charge! I appreciated their mission and loved that they fund research because it is necessary to improve detection and treatment options, and this illness ended my sons life. I loved that they empower survivors of suicide loss! Survivors of breast cancer are the reason we have seen great strides in detection and treatment of that illness, WE are the survivors that will make a difference for depressive illnesses. We had a Board of Directors by December 2007, and received our charter from AFSP in May 2008. We are now a STATE-wide Chapter that hosted 13 Out of the Darkness Community and Campus Walks in 2011, two Motorcycle Rides, three International Survivors of Suicide Day sites, training programs, free programs for middle and high schools, and building a community for survivors to be connected to others that understand what they are going through, among many other programs and resources.
I remember Kurt's life in some way every day! His heart, laughter, comedy and smile are with me all the time...that precious young man that I am blessed to call SON.