- I just want to encourage people
to ask the important questions.
Are you feeling bad? Are you
suicidal? Do you need
somebody to talk to? Do you
need someone to just listen?
And to be there for those who
aren’t feeling well, to offer that
encouragement to a friend
because it’s so important.
Silence Perpetuates Suicide
Real Stories from Suicide Survivors
Several Kentuckians are choosing to talk about suicide and how it has touched their lives. In doing so, they hope to dispel myths, remove the stigma that keeps death by suicide shrouded in silence and offer healing for those who have lost a loved one to suicide. NOTE: Several of these 'stories' include longer, video presentations indicated below.
Kentucky Suicide Prevention Group
Help be a part of the solution.
The Kentucky Suicide Prevention Group is made up of more than 100 Kentuckians who have been affected by suicide. We are moms, dads, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, friends, uncles, aunts, clinicians, mental health advocates and others who have either lost someone close to us, are survivors of attempts or family members of someone close who has attempted. And we are here to put a human face on suicide.
Jenny Jones, Richmond
CPA, Associate Professor of Accounting
My mother’s death devastated
me. How could a loving Christian
mentor like my mom
choose to end her life?
How could she do
this to me when she
knew exactly how it
felt for a daughter to
lose her mother to
suicide? Mom was
19 when she lost her
mother to suicide. Then, I didn’t
know that one person dies by
suicide every 16 minutes…that suicide is the 11th leading
cause of death in Kentucky…that the risk of
as you get older.
of suicide was
simple…in our family,
it was kept a secret.
Now I know that
a secret perpetuates suicide.
That’s why I talk about it every
chance I get.
Yolonda Kelsor Clay, Lexington
Former School Teacher
At 15 I first thought about
suicide…after losing my
grandmother. She was my rock.
I had this melancholy all those
years and never got treated for it.
I just kept praying and pushing
through. I felt such a deep sadness.
I liken it to being in Mammoth
Cave without a flashlight…such an
overwhelming darkness. I can see
how people feel they don’t have a
way out. My family has a history of
depression. But people don’t
talk about mental illness. I’ve
chosen to get on medication, go
to support groups and facilitate
them. Education is key. If you
don’t know things can
be better, you
Michael McFarland, LMFT, Louisville
Former KY Suicide Prevention Coordinator
When I had the opportunity to step into my position as KY state suicide prevention coordinator, one of the things that I had in mind, part of the agenda that was driving me to move to that position, was wanting to ensure that there was greater opportunity for clinical training. I wanted to see what we could do in a state standpoint, in our state prevention program to provide educational opportunities, workshops, that clinicians could participate in to get the competency that is necessary in working with a suicidal client, to provide them with an opportunity to come in a clinical level, to talk about, to think about, to explore what needs to happen from a clinician standpoint to be able to work with suicidal clients. And I think that’s even more critical when we begin to think about what its happening all across the nation in all kinds of states, in working with mental health, and all the resources that sometimes have to be looked at, and how those resources are allocated.
Mark Neblett, Bullitt County
If I had understood the warning
signs and knew help was out there,
we might have saved
Rachel. She was so
bubbly and loved
life. We found out
she was being cyber
stalked. I was like
the old school dad and
told her not to worry. In
my day, we were eye to eye and
this stuff didn’t last. She said, “You
don’t understand, it’s different.”
She was right…she must have been
tore up inside. These kids can’t see
how much their bullying is hurting
that person. The day it
was the same, just like
every morning. She
walked me out the door
and waved. Later, her
mother found her dead
by suicide. There’s not a day
that goes by that I don’t cry. I’m
doing what my heart needs to do…help people and get the word out
about cyberbullying and suicide.
Nicole Rihn, Louisville
Chris was the best man in our
wedding. The second
time he came back
from Iraq he was
different. He started
drinking all the
time…he told me
what he saw in Iraq.
He was diagnosed
with Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder. He
was distant, but he’d call me at 3
in the morning because he didn’t
want to be alone. Then he killed
himself. None of us
really understand why.
Honestly, it was like it
wasn’t real...this doesn’t
happen to the people
I care about. He had a
baby on the way. All the
time, the baby’s mom
and I talk about what
she’s going to tell her
son about his dad. I
want people to know about PTSD
and what to do about it.
Steve Ulrich, Louisville
We always end up asking ourselves
why we didn’t see it coming.
Suicide is the second
leading cause of
death of college
students. Why aren’t
we talking about
this? I had a rude
death. Like with so
many young men in Kentucky, it
was so important to him to play
basketball. Nathan was surrounded
by athletes in the best physical
health money can buy. Why don’t
we put as much emphasis on their
mental health? We need to help
that child who went to
college not to die on that
college campus, but to
succeed on that campus.
We as a society have to
deal with this. What are
we so afraid of? We don’t
know where suicide will
strike next. When college
students welcome the grave to stop
their pain, something is severely
wrong. Why aren’t we screaming at
the top of our lungs something is
Owensboro HIV/AIDS Task Force
I am the executive director of the Owensboro AIDS task force and we do supportive services for people who are infected and affected by HIV. That includes everything from taking them to the store, or to doctor’ appointments, to testing and telling that person that they are in fact HIV positive. That part of it has to be…is the most difficult part of it all, because for some of those people, in terms of the having some kind of support after I give them that information, I may be their only support. Suicidal thoughts are not an uncommon reaction to the news.
The staff in the AIDS branch at the state level, they were bright enough to have a quarterly training that was the QPR gatekeeper training. And it was there that I shared some personal experiences with people, and there were four of us…who went on to get the training to be QPR trainers. I also trained most of my volunteers with QPR. I don't think there is ever a point that you can dismiss someone's life; their life has value.