Saturday, October 12, 2019

Please Join Me

Once again, I have been asked to help kick off an AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk. The opportunity to speak to both survivors of attempts and survivors of loss, as well as those who support us, is beyond an honor. At these events, when I speak I make every effort to not only speak to those of us whose lives have been touched by suicide, but also to speak on our behalf. 

The Oakland event is an early one, but please feel free to join me and all the others who are making a difference in the fight for suicide prevention!

Event Details

Walk Date: 10/19/2019
Walk Location: Lake Merritt - Oakland, CA
Check-in/Registration Time: 6:00 am
Walk Begins: 6:30 am
Walk Ends: 9:00 am
Remembering and honoring those who have been lost and/or those who have attempted suicide, is always my goal when writing, speaking, and advocating on behalf of suicide prevention. On October 19, I will be proudly wearing the following beads:

If you are interested in forming a team, volunteering at the event, or making a donation, please click on the image below:

For more information about the Oakland event, please contact:

Contact Name: April Collins 
Contact Phone: 707-968-7563 
Contact Email:

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Antonie Kamerling

Anthonie Willem Constantijn Gneomar "Antonie" Kamerling was a Dutch television and film actor, and musician. He was member of the original cast of the Dutch soap opera Goede tijden, slechte tijden. He played in the films The Little Blonde Death (1993), All Stars (1997), and I Love You Too (2001). He also had starring roles in Dutch musical productions.

For many years Antonie Kamerling suffered from depression. On October 6, 2010, he lost his life to suicide. He was 44 years old when he died.

Antonie Kamerling 
August 25, 1966 – October 6, 2010 

Monday, September 30, 2019

Begin Now - DAY 30

Thank you for making a difference in the 
fight for suicide prevention and awareness.


You make  a difference. 

You are needed in this world.

There is help available.

And to continue making a difference:

Fight Stigma

Make  research a priority

Advocate  Advocate  Advocate

Work towards making 
treatment available to all.

Begin Now.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Meet Chelise - DAY 29

My personal story is comprised of the posts that were first responsible for creating the Lighting Up the Sky blog. I invite you to take a look at them again.

Chelise Stroud's
Personal Story and Essays

One of the most important things you can do on this earth 

is to let people know they are not alone. 

― Shannon L. Alder, Author

Chelise Stroud is a suicide prevention writer, speaker, and advocate. She is a two time survivor of suicide loss.

"I believe in healing. I believe in recovery. I believe in reaching out and speaking out. I believe that every story is important and I believe that all of our voices matter." - Chelise Stroud

You can find Chelise's personal essays and story, by clicking on the image below:

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Our Voices Matter - DAY 28

This is a reminder to take a look at this series on the lighting up the sky blog.

Our Voices Matter
Each post features the story of a remarkable person whose life has been touched by suicide. Some are survivors of suicide attempts. Some are people who have overcome having been suicidal. Some are experts in the field of mental health and suicide. And many are those who've survived the heartbreaking loss of someone they love to suicide.

These are the words of storytellers, activists, advocates, law makers, and loved ones.

Click on the image below to see the Our Voices Matter posts:

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Quiet Beauty of Grief - DAY 27

Two years ago I was moved by a photo that a woman in one of my online suicide loss support groups posted.

With her permission, I published the photo on this blog. The photo was an expression of grief and beauty combined.  Her two young children who'd lost their father, and in the photo their love for him still was so evident, even when they were at his graveside.

I believe that survivors of suicide loss need to be allowed to grieve with the same dignity and respect as any other person who has suffered a loss.

Since publishing that photo two years ago, I  created a regular series on this blog called The Beauty of Grief. I have published inspirational quotes, photos, artwork, poems, and more.

You can learn more about The Beauty of Grief series, by clicking here.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Faith Bacon - DAY 26

Faith Bacon was an American burlesque dancer and actress. During the height of her career, she was billed as 'America's Most Beautiful Dancer'.

Bacon's career began in Paris. When she moved to the United States, her performances were considered risque and some deemed them indecent. Her career began to decline and eventually she became indigent.

On September 26, 1956, Faith Bacon died by suicide. She was forty six years old.

Faith Bacon 
July 19, 1910  – September 26, 1956

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Every Day - DAY 25

Suicide is not someone else's problem. Fighting Stigma, creating awareness, and working towards more effective prevention is a job that belongs to all of us.

Every day, aproximately 123 Americans die by suicide.

When you see the current statistics, you will see the urgency. Suicide prevention is work that we must be doing, every day.


From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

More info - sources via Wikipedia:

The annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.42 per 100,000 individuals. Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women. On average, there are 123 suicides per day. White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Tell Us. Don't Encourage. Don't Traumatize. - DAY 24

Responsible reporting when it comes to suicide, is so important. Suicide is a public health issue. It is not sensationalistic. It should not be treated any differently. Irresponsible reporting can lead to a spike in suicides following high profile losses, or in communities after a community member dies by suicide.

Responsible reporting about suicide is not just a journalistic standard. Potentially, it saves lives.
If you are writing about suicide or sharing your experiences publicly, in large audiences, or in the media (including social media) these are the guidelines that are important to follow. Please keep them in mind. I do, whenever I write.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, I will share the sources I always refer to when I need reminders. I hope this information will be helpful to you too.

From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

And a quick primer from Samaritans Media Guidelines:

Monday, September 23, 2019

Committing to Better Use of Language - DAY 23

The language we use when we are talking about suicide matters. In some situations, subtle differences in language come down to more than just semantics. Often, language is the initial framework we use in order to categorize or interpret actions. In fact, this framework is one of the objectives of language itself.

Because suicide is so stigmatized, we often have trouble talking about it. Understanding the subtleties of the language we use or even knowing what to say, can be confusing. That being said - I will speak for many of us whose lives who have been touched by suicide:

Please stop saying 'committed suicide'.

I could go on and on about this. I could beg people to be more considerate, more thoughtful, more understanding, or to just educate themselves about the causes of suicide. Today though, I am not going to beg. Besides, all of those things are blog posts of their own. For the sake of this one, I will try to simplify.

Consider this: for survivors of suicide loss and for survivors of suicide attempts - the connotation (the definition itself) of the word 'committed' only serves to increase stigma and exacerbate pain:

past tense: committed; past participle: committed
  1. 1.
    carry out or perpetrate (a mistake, crime, or immoral act).

    "he committed an uncharacteristic error"

For most of us whose lives have been touched by suicide, hearing the term 'committed suicide' is hurtful.

I don't want to beg you to understand that we are in enough pain already. My hope is that our pain alone is enough to help you to reconsider the terminology you are using.

While I recognize this isn't always the case, the vast majority of those who have died by suicide had been dealing with mental illness. Therefore, the suicidality was a symptom of their illness. Because of this, it is inaccurate and somewhat cruel to use language that squarely places the blame for their death on an immoral act they were responsible for.

For those who are not dealing with mental health issues, we are often unable to comprehend the depth of pain that it can cause. And mental illness can also contribute to all of these things as well: a decrease in pain tolerance; an inability to understand long term consequences; and, a lack of impulse control. Put all those things together, and without adequate treatment mental illness becomes potentially fatal.

Please consider that mental illness is also about things that we, as a culture (and even scientifically) are only just beginning to understand. The impact of trauma, the subtle balance of chemical activity in the brain, the delicate nature of neural pathways and the impact on a person when those neural pathways are disturbed or broken. These things are the causes of potentially fatal mental illness. While we don't fully understand all of these causes (yet) - what we can say is that none of those things are the fault of the person who is suffering.

As a person who endures mental illness, let me put this even more clearly:

I did not choose to be ill. I do not want to be ill. Often, this illness hurts. Often, this illness breaks my own heart. Often, I am fearful that I will lose my own life to this illness. 

My life is spent constantly trying to address and manage the symptoms of my illness. Some days are better than others. But never, am I 'committing' my mental illness on you.

Sadly, oftentimes the thoughts that complicate my own suicidality are directly related to the language our culture uses. Specifically, if I was worthy of life, I would stop committing the crime of suffering from mental illness.

Mental illness is not the fault of the person who is suffering.  Please, see it for what it is and change your language accordingly.

We do not say 'he committed cancer.'
We do not say 'she committed heart disease'
We do not say 'he committed alzheimers'

Please stop saying that those who lost their lives to the symptoms of mental illness 'committed' suicide.

Please. Stop.

Here is language that is more appropriate:

They died by suicide.
They lost their life to suicide. 
Suicide was the cause of their death.

Or, to be even more accurate you could say: "They were mentally ill, and their illness was fatal."

Please stop indicting me and my loved ones and all of us who struggle with mental illness. Please stop criminalizing those of us who are struggling still, and those who have already lost their lives.

I don't want to beg you.

But I am begging you.

Please stop using the terminology: 'committed' suicide.