When someone really close to you takes their own life, it's a horrible, horrible thing. But we're able to take what we've learned and help others.
In order to tell my story to the millions of "60 Minutes" viewers, I was aware that I would have to delve into a specific time in my life: that day in 1971 when I came home and found my mother dead in her bedroom.
When my life was talked about in the news, especially on "60 Minutes II" in November 2003, I had a major disappointment that was at first difficult to articulate. And I think this is something only suicide survivors can understand.
For a very long time, nearly two decades, my mother told no one—not her children, not her brother and sister—that my father had killed himself, that she had found a note that morning and quickly destroyed it.
My memories of that day are a series of hazy and fragmented images. My father saying goodbye when I called out to him. The telephone ringing. My mother screaming.
Over time I have been able to forgive him, but I can't forget that he not only abandoned me, but was so unthinking that he allowed metoexperience the trauma of discovering his body at such an impressionable time of my life.
My mind was running in a million directions, but you couldn't tell by the somber look on my young face. My face was connected to my knees by hands and elbows. The innocence of my youth had been stolen from me in a most unlikely manner.
When Pop left the house for the last time, he wore a light-brown, salt-and-pepper woolen overcoat and a dark brown fedora; a brimmed, soft hat like other businessmen wore.
For many years, I cried myself to sleep. And when people asked me how he died, I'd say, "A heart attack. Yeah, he was pretty young," my canned response to avoid replaying the shocking footage of his death and answering the probing questions.
No one knew how to explain to a four-year-old that her mommy had chosen to leave her, so I was told that she had gone on vacation. All of her personal belongings, all pictures of her, were put away. She just disappeared.
No one knew how to explain to a four-year-old that her mommy had chosen to leave her, so I was told that she had gone on vacation. All of her personal belongings, all pictures of her, were put away.
I remember feeling scared. I was immediately worried that something may have happened to my mother. When I heard my father’s footsteps walking up the stairs towards my room, I knew.
Finishing high school was difficult after my mother’s suicide. While my older siblings were dealing with her suicide in places outside our home, I was left to deal with it at home alone with my father.
I became obsessed with learning about loss. I wrote in my journal constantly. I read as many books as I could about loss and grief, hoping to find someone who would understand what I was going through.
It was the first day of school, my junior year of high school. That morning, during prayer in chapel, the headmaster had recited the names of three people who had died during the summer. I cried deeply and silently when he read my father’s name.