As some of you already know, and now anyone reading this will know, I lost my 30 year old son by suicide from Schizoaffective Disorder in August 2021. Since this heart wrenching grief I have grown, changed, remained paralyzed, felt hope, felt sorrow and optimism. Add your own mix to the words and it probably fits.
My message to readers come from very early statements shared with me after Matthew died. One, by my psychiatrist and one of my sons best friends mother, who also lost her son. "People need to know that even with optimum treatment, much like other medical conditions, we do have people who die from mental illness." My dear friend Ellen who said "Always remember you only know what you know when you know it." I hold on to both statements for personal grounding and sanity. There is so much emphasis on "suicide prevention" with a heavy hand, in my opinion, placing responsibility for recognizing suicidal symptoms as if anyone attempting to help is responsible for the outcome creating further grief, guilt and trauma. Humanity demands increased compassion for all, not only providing comfort/aid/shelter but quality medical care to our loved ones with brain illnesses.
Please know we can become more cognizant and aware; more proactive and compassionate; better providers; conduct research; demand systemic change but just like cancers some brain illnesses are sustainable and some are not. I am committed, as is my husband, to advocacy, reform, education and support on a number of levels. I owe it to the tenets of NAMI, and the people of NAMI Finger Lakes, NAMINYS for giving of themselves through this grassroots not for profit to advocate, heal and be well. Donations in memory of my son and others, along with support by joining NAMI are the lifeblood to continuing this "thing" we call NAMI. Consider contributions to NAMI, in whatever way suits your personal journey and mission; your NAMI Affiliate; or simply encouraging those you know to subscribe to our e-Newsletter. (Elisa Tobia, NAMI-FLNY New Board Member, May 2022)