My name is Jennifer Warnick and I have been volunteering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) for the last ten years as an advocate, walk chair, and Central Texas Board member. I lost my beautiful mom Diane on September 3, 2011, at the young age of 50 to suicide. She had battled various types of depression since her teenage years. As a young child, teen, and even a young adult, I did not fully understand the scope of mental health or even what it was. I was raised to be a “Suck it up buttercup” and “don’t let the world see you hurt” type of person. If you truly knew me, you would almost agree that I halfway listened to my parents, lol. I can fall ten flights of stairs, get back up, and run a marathon without skipping a beat. However, I have never been that great at hiding my hurts. When I lost my mom, my heart and mind was ripped wide open. Seeing and feeling things I thought were viewed as “weaknesses” to those around me. I felt like the wind of 100 sails knocked me to my knees. My thoughts were in a race of their own one minute and calm as the eye of a hurricane the very next.
I felt lost, hopeless, disappointed, and angry with my mom, myself, and my family. I thought of the why’s and the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. And in those moments of despair, many sleepless nights, and millions of tears later, I realized I could be the story my mom never lived to tell. The story of falling down her own flight of stairs and no handrail to grab a hold of as she climbed the slick walls back to her feet. Her story of isolation, darkness, poor self-esteem, feelings of doom, hopelessness, and the endless list of uncontrollable highs and lows – the story no one liked to talk about then and is only just beginning to tell in recent times. The story that left her feeling separated from reality and those who loved her with every inch of their being. If only we could have heard the story from HER EYES, then maybe we could have begun to understand the battle of the mind behind that beautiful smile of hers.
Although she is not here to physically share ten years of raising mental health awareness with me, you, and those who have chosen to support AFSP today, it’s through her that I am able to write this entry for you today. It’s because of her that many who have taken the time to read this blog or attend one of our Community Walks, have found hope in their loss or have found the fight to make it just one more day. I, like many AFSP volunteers, have taken their pain and turned it into a purpose just like this. Some days are still dark but many more are brighter. One of my favorite quotes is, “Don’t lose HOPE because when the sun goes down the stars come out!” ~ Unknown
My hope is that with your support, you, your family, friends, and even a strangers’ 10-year-old son or daughter now has a safe place to find hope again through the resources, research, and education that AFSP has provided to me and our community. I made a promise to my guardian angel above to be a Badass in raising mental health awareness so that others don’t have to feel the pain our family has AND so that those wearing her shoes would know and feel like someone cares! I hope you have the strength to be a Badass against mental health too!
What is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death.
AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have experienced a loss. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health.
Thanks to our donors, we are the largest private funder of suicide prevention research. The majority of suicide prevention researchers across the globe have been funded by AFSP at some point during their career. Learn more about our research including what grants we’re currently funding and what we’ve already learned at afsp.org/research.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has over a dozen education programs available to the community at no cost. Find a full list of our community programs at afsp.org/community-programs. Find a list of programs that you can bring to your school or university at afsp.org/education.
With the help of over 30,000 advocates across the country, we’re advocating for policies that make mental health as big of a priority as physical health. Visit afsp.org/advocacy to learn how AFSP volunteer advocates are helping our public policy office in Washington, D.C. to pass suicide prevention policies that will save lives.
Whether you have struggled with suicide yourself or have lost a loved one, know you are not alone. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers support for survivors of suicide loss and those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. Visit afsp.org/get-help to find support resources.
We have a bold goal to reduce the annual suicide rate by 20% by the year 2025. We are working toward this goal through our Project 2025. Get involved with our strategy to reduce the annual suicide rate by visiting afsp.org/project2025.
This is all made possible thanks to donors and volunteers like you. Thank you for helping us save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.