Everybody loved my brother, Sean. He was funny, creative, wild and sweet--a fun-loving guy who knew how to tell a joke and always made people laugh. He had nicknames for everyone. I was Cosmic Kim. His friends were Tubs, Treats, Turtleman and Major Tubbage. He was a great athlete, a left-handed pitcher who played baseball in high school, college and an amateur adult league. He was tender and sensitive. He loved children, played guitar, wrote poetry and slept with his dog, Boo Bear, a female Chow Chow, cuddled up against him.
Although he had a good job, a nice place to live and a wonderful girlfriend and surrogate family, he also struggled mightily with bipolar disorder and substance use disorder. When he was depressed, he couldn't get out of bed for days on end. When he was manic, he heard voices and once gave his car to a homeless guy. He tried to kill himself three times--serious attempts that landed him in the hospital--before he died on June 6, 2003 of an accidental drug overdose.
I wish I knew then what I know now--that the stigma of mental illness and substance use disorders make it difficult for people to reach out for help. I wish I knew that listening with compassion when he talked about wanting to kill himself would have been more helpful than trying to talk him out of it. I wish I knew about Didi Hirsch and the lifesaving programs they offer for people with serious mental illness and drug addictions. I am sure he would have found solace in a Survivors of Suicide Attempt support group. Perhaps he would be alive today, making his friends laugh at their high school reunion, instead of showing up on that memorial video--forever 37 while all his classmates turn 50.
I support Alive & Running because I don't want other families to lose their brothers and sons. I think lives can be saved when people know how to respond when loved ones talk about suicide. Please join my team or make a donation and help spread the word that hope and help are available. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call Didi Hirsch’s 24/7 Crisis Line at 877-727-4747. You can also learn about the warning signs or get more information about support groups at didihirsch.org.
Thanks for your support!