Only now do I understand

Guest post by Mary Bowers. Ms. Bowers is a volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Tallahassee Affiliate.
picture of lady leaning against chair
My daughter Brook ended her life at the age of 31, just days before the 15th anniversary of her high school boyfriend’s death by suicide.

At the time, 16-year-old Brook had insisted no one understood what she was going through — the grief, the guilt, and the shame. Only now do I understand.

Two weeks after Brook’s funeral, I went back to work. When the longing to see her just one more time was more than I could bear, I took a sick day or two. There was a void that filled my heart and many unanswered questions consumed me.

After a few months had passed, I began attending grief support groups and I continue to do so today. Participating in those support groups with other survivors of suicide loss — the fostering of trust and understanding — made the difference. They knew what I needed when they gave me a sense of hope and helped me preserve my dignity.

Only one in four survivors seek help after the suicide of a loved one, and when they do, often times many months or years have passed. Forty-nine percent of survivors of suicide loss consider killing themselves. But healed survivors can find meaning in their lives by contributing to the community by helping others, especially those who have confronted similar losses.

This lesson is very important and together we can spark a meaningful change focused on suicide postvention.

With the Inaugural Bluebird Run and Walk for Brookie B, we hope to ignite a coordinated postvention program to support the bereaved and prevent further suicides. NAMI-Tallahassee has started the conversation. We offer you the opportunity to join us in our compassionate journey. For Bluebird Run and Walk for Brookie B information see

To get involved in NAMI-Tallahassee’s suicide prevention efforts, contact her at If you are in crisis or know someone who is, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24/7.

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