National Suicide Prevention Week: September 5th – 11th
September: Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Suicide rates are on the rise in our communities and in our country. Sadly, teen suicides are way up within that group.

Some will cry out for help before committing their deeds, others won’t. Usually, when individuals reach that point, they are in a deep depression (clinical depression) which is about the lowest point one can sink to.

In our society, there’s a lot of shame attached to suicide and it carries with it a negative stigma. Then later comes the blame … both to self and others!

In my hope to kick-start a dialog on this important subject, I want to share some personal stories of suicide that are very personal since they are within my own family. This is not easy for me to do or live with, but I choose not to walk this path alone anymore.

One conversation can change a life.

My mother, Priscilla Wenskunas, tried to end her life by ingesting a bottle of pills. I was a teenager at the time. She was in a lot of pain. I found her, called the ambulance and followed her to the hospital. I remember them pumping her stomach with a black chalky substance. She survived and was admitted for several days to deal and cope with her daemons, I was told. She was battling depression brought on in part by the loss of a newborn child, and, coping with a broken heart after finding out her marriage was ending. (After eight years of being divorced, my parents re-married.)  She wasn’t willing to talk about any of this. We were supposed to keep personal issues and struggles bottled-up. In those days – even today – you don’t talk about certain things to avoid the negative stigmas and the shame that comes with it.

My aunt, Elaine Wenskunas, was an amazing aunt and mother, and I admired her inner and outer beauty. In her case, I had first-hand knowledge of the emotional and physical abuse that she endured from her husband. She suffered physically and was in a lot of pain – unfortunately, she did commit suicide (although I believe she was murdered, or pushed to the end of her life). I believe she endured for so long because of her children.   I treasured our friendship and respected her a lot. In the end, I was fortunate to share with her how much she truly meant to me before her death. She lives in my heart forever.

My neighbor was a Police Explorer and committed suicide. I heard the gun shot, ran outside and was able to comfort his girlfriend that witnessed this tragedy. I continue to keep him, her and his family in my thoughts and prayers. To be so young and in so much pain and leaving behind so much misunderstanding, pain and grief. I will never understand, but I do know he would have never ended his life, if he knew or understood there was hope, help and healing for a happy and healthy future.

My dear friend’s wife committed suicide and I am not at liberty to discuss it. It is his and his families place to discuss it when they feel so inclined. But I pray for them and am here for them 24/7 and I would want them to know they don’t have to walk this path alone.

My only child, my son has tried to take his life four times; possibly more, but four that are known! He was diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, ODD, Dyslexia and Anxieties in kindergarten and most recently four years ago with Bipolar and Depression. This has been the most challenging for me, especially since I have fought so hard for him and us (he is the greatest gift I have ever been given) – but this isn’t about me, it is about him and his diagnosis, disabilities and personal struggles; sadly I cannot change that or even him as much as I try to make it easier for him.

He is loved for being who he is, as he is, and he has a side to him that is the most caring, creative, loving and generous soul I know, but he also has another side that he struggles with and with proper help he can conquer. We have faith that he will never quit, give in, or give up; no matter what, he just needs to find his middle ground and accept the help! I continue to ask for help with and for him and for others to pray for him.

I love life and have fought with every ounce of my being for it. So no …  I admit that I do not understand that province of the human mind that would want to terminate their own life. All the pains and struggles in my life have never brought me to that, only one time when I was ambushed by an agency did I say I wanted to walk in front of a train, but I never really wanted to do it-nor would I ever. However, I do believe we have all said something similar at one time or another, but I also learned that saying it is different than doing it and it is not even something to joke about, even within our own pain. Suicide is to always be taken seriously – no question, no doubt: report it and seek help!

I plan to share more of the above in greater detail in my book “With Faith, there is Hope,” but please I’m begging you to join me in stopping the silence, stigmas, shame, and blame and share to prevent and help those in need. It’s ok to be afraid, but we do not have to be alone on this journey!


If you are in need of help: 

Call (800) 273-TALK or NAMI Helpline (800) 950-6264

#StopSuicide #SuicidePrevention 
#StigmaFree #MentalHealthReform