This movement is bigger than myself and in my lifetime I will be a part of the shift and make the change ... but I can only do so when it is with others.... not alone just like my father was ... not able to share and in his own thoughts ... this is why I am reaching out... I have a Youtube channel in the works to create the awareness of suicide prevention and assist others in recognizing the signs: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIj_7MMY66w1Vu4P08QexDQ
My name is Jamie, I have been a daddy's girl through and through. Every family member would say so, they would even say I look and have mannerisms just like him. Being the first born out of two, my sister being 6 years younger, we were always a close knit family. Ever since I can remember my father was in and out of hospital, had wheelchairs, canes, crutches and had been on various test medications at the prime of his 30s, which is only what I was able to see. He was born with rheumatoid arthritis, that meant for him constant pain since he can remember. Before my sister was born and when she was too little to remember, I saw my father in agonizing pain. He would hold me at night and cry asking me to tell my mother to leave him because he wasn't "strong enough" as a man to support her, my sister and I. He would request of me to take care of them, to be strong and healthy. Which I agreed to, up until today and going forward.
I watched my young parents not able to pursue their dream careers because there was too much debt from his medical bills. My mother would hide these and pay them off with their/my savings. I saw them have many breakdowns and arguments that my father would bring up in order for my mother to leave him because he thought she'd be better off. My mother demanding her husband was stronger than that and reminded him of the vow she took 31 years ago. It brought them closer as husband and wife and us as a family, they made sure I understood what was happening and lived every day like it was our last. Through all of this my parents provided me with a loving childhood filled with many life lessons, great experiences and ensured I was domesticated. My father became my best friend, I learned everything and anything I could from him - from cooking, working on cars, being handy around the house, playing sports, treating everyone as equals, seeing past skin colour, self respect, putting myself in other people's shoes and viewing it from their eyes, what I would soon look for in a life partner based on how he treated my mother, the respect, honour and love he had for our family and his parents. Everything I aspired to be as a human being.
After high school I chose to work instead of going to college or university in order to help with my parents' bills and to ensure my younger sister was able to get the opportunity to further her education. After many jobs that turned into careers that I did not enjoy, I ended up staying at a reputable worldwide company that paid well above average and was extremely unhappy. I confided in my father if "this is it" if "this" is what it is like to be an "adult" and to "live." With him still living with his lifelong illness and his realization at a young age of his dreams never to be met, he asked me, "if money never existed what would I choose to do?" (also one of the many amazing life lessons I had learned from him). I quit that job 2 weeks later and pursued a job in the hospitality industry determined to make it a career. I worked as a hostess for a celebrity chef's restaurant, made a little above minimum wage at the time and was on cloud nine! I was a sponge and wanted to know everything about the industry. I realized I was so drawn to this line of work because I love cooking, hosting dinners, making sure people have a great experience and are nurtured, served and cared for. This was IT, this was the "thing" I loved, my passion, it was, on the grander scale the restaurant business.
As my happiness in life flourished so did my father's health, he had found medication that helped him, it was administrated by injection on a monthly basis. Quite costly but we as a family were prepared to contribute for his health. He was also granted a hip replacement in his early 40s and would soon have an ankle plate replacing the bone marrow that his illness ate away at. Things were looking up, even as a family we were so involved and fed off each other to maintain great health because my father was getting his under HIS control.
My parents got their finances in order, they were able to travel and do adventurous things my father never could, my sister was in college, I was progressing in my career. Everything was great! Holidays and dinner parties were always at our house with my father and I cooking and hosting, it always being a great time for everyone! The night before Thanksgiving 2010, (4 days prior to my 25th birthday), we had family and friends over to celebrate, great food and company but a late night as usual when we had gatherings. I had woken up abruptly after only a few hours of sleep to my father leaving for work, questioned why was he working on a holiday, he told me he got called in. Something compelled me to ask if he would be safe, he said yes, I didn't believe him but took his word, told him I loved him and saw him out. Although something didn't sit right with me I let it go, something I hoped I never did. My father never came home that night, I spent the next day on the search for him, filed a missing person report with the police, updating my sister and mother who went to work. For what seemed like an eternity the police came and informed me my father had committed suicide. I sunk to the floor and was in complete shock, looking for a note that he may have left behind, or signs that I may have missed so I could have prevented it, if only I had stopped him before he left, that was my train of thought. I later had identified him and had gone to get my sister and mother to tell them what had happened. I turned to drugs and alcohol while I was struggling with anger towards my father for doing this, for leaving me a few days before my birthday, regret for letting him leave the house, guilt,
grieving, taking care of my mother and sister, financial burden, funeral arrangements, insurance, signing everything over to my name and being power of attorney. From that moment I was alive but not living, I had spiralled into deep depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts while trying to keep it together on the outside. Resentment started to grow towards my father because I felt like he was the only one who understood me and left me with having to take care of my sister and mother, who I later on grew angry with because I felt they were holding me back from living my life because of what I did to provide for them.
I had left my career I loved and started to self medicate while drinking to numb the pain. Since I wasn't working and money was running low, I turned to selling drugs as a source of fast income. I became careless, reckless and acted as if my life wasn't worth living. I ended up getting pulled over and charged for trafficking. Thrown in jail and was looking at 7-10 years in prison, didn't cry, didn't feel anything frankly. This is when I realized I was cold, emotionless and dead inside. I was released after a few days and I was to await judgment, which would be over a year's time, I had my ups and downs during, with help every now and then with substances. My lawyer ended up getting me off scott-free, no record, no charges. He then said, "You got a second chance Jamie, are you going to live your life now?" I had gone in September of 2012 to a forum, what I got out of it was acceptance of my father committing suicide, forgiving him, not worrying or wondering what could have happened or why and not giving into "my story," realizing it is just what's so and it does not dictate anything. But, most of all I got a new chance at life, one that I chose to live. I followed that education and it propelled me into action.
I sought education on suicide awareness, am trained and certified in speaking to people with suicidal thoughts and helping them get out of that mind state. I continued to help people and found myself not feeling fully fulfilled.
I later on had reviewed the same Forum this past December. I reviewed it for I wanted to tap into what was "missing." What I got out of it this time around was a great relationship with my mother and taking my knowledge to the next level of suicide awareness. And practising it on a grander scale, to reach out to more people, to do so worldwide, to be proactive with a movement to change the stigma around suicide and have others be aware of the signs and know how to
provide help. Implementing this education in schools, workplaces, families and the world! Also providing assistance to the ones who were left feeling like I did when my father passed - how to handle it, what to expect, where to find counselling and support as well as education about it.
The fact is people are committing suicide and having trouble seeking help due to most people they go to being unaware of the signs as opposed to professionals. Our possible future if nothing is done would be us living in a world where no help is sought and more lives being lost. Creating awareness in others and educating others to be lifesavers is what I stand for. Sharing with others on having a bit of knowledge in the proper language to use when someone is suicidal would make the world of a difference. Creating an environment where others have access to learning it is what I am standing for.