Katelyn Johnson - Suicide Prevention Month Submission

Trigger warning: suicide


When I was 12 years old my world changed forever. On March 14th, 2011 my dad died by suicide. I can remember so vividly my mom waking my brother and I up and telling us what happened. I had just seen my dad the night before so the words coming out of my moms mouth were not processing in my mind. She told us he “took his own life” at our fishing spot at the lake. I was in shock. I didn’t even know what suicide meant at 12 years old. Still to today I don’t think I knew what was going on until I attended his funeral. My dad had struggled for years without any proper help, he made multiple suicide attempts and was admitted into multiple hospitals but nothing ever worked...he was diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

In the beginning I was more mad than sad. I was angry that someone could just leave behind their wife, kids, and friends. I didn’t understand. As I got older I started to blame myself. I felt like I could’ve been a better daughter, been nicer to my brother, followed the rules more... I went through the stages of grief over and over again. I was angry, sad, guilty, and in denial. Sometimes - mainly holidays or big events I get a feeling that my dad will just come walking through the doors and it’ll all be a big joke or life lesson. But it never happened. As I got older I realized what my dad was going through was more than I could ever imagine. His mental health was unstable and he wasn’t getting the types of resources we have today.

When I was 14 years old I took an entire bottle of sleeping pills. I remember taking them and then my mom dragging me out of bed into the car and rushing me to the hospital. I was on suicide watch for a week before they decided to transfer me to a behavioral health facility where I spent another week doing activities to “make me happy” and “feel better.” It didn’t help. Although I do remember riding the city bus a couple years later and I saw a boy who was in the facility the same time I was for a suicide attempt and he was alive and looked happy and it gave me hope.

I’m 20 years old now and have thought of suicide and giving up many times but I think of my mom, my brother, my family members and everyone it would impact like my dads suicide impacted me. I’m a more caring and understanding person because of what I’ve been through and experienced. Everyday I wish I could have my dad back and take his pain away. I’m so grateful and hopeful for the Buddy Project and their vision because just having somebody to talk to and make you feel cared about can really and truly make a difference.

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