Since Steve took his own life in 2015 and I have chosen a path to put a spotlight on mental illness and suicide, there have been many times where I was ready to give up. This path, by no means, has been an easy one for me. I still breakdown in sobs as I write or talk to people about Steve. I ask myself, Why do I want to keep talking about subjects that make people feel uncomfortable and make me cry?
I continually have to remind myself that I want something good to come out of the tragic circumstances surrounding Steve’s life. By freely speaking about the cause of his death and the events leading up to it, I truly believe that the more mental illness and suicide are spoken about, those that suffer mental anguish will be more apt to seek treatment and talk about what they are feeling without shame or embarrassment.
While on my journey, I have found that there are so many that suffer silently and wear the mask of “Everything is great with me” just as Steve had done. Even more shocking is the number of suicides that are occurring. I am a member of a closed Facebook group dedicated to suicide survivors. There are almost 11,000 members and every day there is usually at least one new survivor posting the tragic story of their loved one lost to suicide.
In addition, based on feedback from my Facebook page, the memoir, online articles I have written or my blog, people have shared with me their own experiences with depression; either they themselves struggle with it, or they have family members who are struggling. Others have also spoken to me about suicides of their loved ones. A woman that I did not know, who lost her husband to suicide, shared with me that she read my 9/11/2016 article in Newsday about not being silent about Steve’s suicide and that it gave her the strength for the first time to talk about the cause of her husband’s death. She shared that this article allowed her to lift a huge burden she had been carrying.
The following quotes summarize how some of my writings related to Steve’s story have helped others:
” Your book made a huge difference in my life, I mean a huge difference and I decided to seek treatment and make sure I do not slip away from my family and my friends.”
“I read your friend’s story when it was posted a while ago. This is such an important issue to talk about. My daughter has battled serious depression since she was a teen. I believe making depression an illness that is not stigmatized will help many more people find the help that is needed to deal with this debilitating condition. It honors your friend’s life to do so.”
“What an awesome thing you are doing. I also have tried taking my life so this really touches me deeply. Thank you.”
“I am one of many former triathletes who were shocked when we heard of Steve’s passing, one of those who knew him, as you described in your piece, as ‘healthy and strong, a great athlete and visionary entrepreneur’. The Mighty Montauk triathlon was a traditional race for me and my friends for the 2000’s. We were there every year. We just couldn’t wrap our heads around how this could happen to someone we admired, who did the things we did and which we thought were helpful additions to our own mental stability. And no one explained it to us. Until now. So again thanks so very much.”
“Seeing and hearing from people like you who are surviving, helping, reaching out to others, and letting those people like me know they are not alone help give me hope that I will be ok, and that hopefully I can touch or inspire someone the way you have.”
Whether educating people about my personal experience with suicide, making people feel they are not alone in what they are experiencing, or giving pause to someone who may be considering suicide, these are the reasons I will continue on my path.
I have always said, I will have accomplished my goal of helping others by telling Steve’s story if I could help just one person. Based on the comments I have received, it seems as though there may be more than one person who has been touched by Steve’s story. This gives me some measure of peace since I believe that Steve continues to help others (something he did so well in life) even though he is no longer with us.