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Moms on the Frontlines of Suicide Awareness: Janet’s Story

Written story

Why is it important for you to share your story?

I am a mom that lost her 16 year old son to suicide. I unfortunately have been affected numerous times by suicide. I feel like it is important to share my story and also to try to break the stigma of mental health and suicide prevention. We NEED to talk about it more to have people feel the need to get help when they are needing it.

Share your lived experience.

My 16 year old son Sam lost two good friends to suicide in September 2019, my son struggled a lot after they died. Despite the help Sam was willing to get, unfortunately 4 month later my son also died by suicide on January 2nd 2020. 6 weeks later his girlfriend Ashlyn died to suicide… Sam’s girlfriend’s mom Shannon (who works at the same clinic as I do, HealthPartners in Arden Hills) and I joined forces and have done our best to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention in our community. To teach people it is “OK to not be OK”. We have been interviewed numerous times on the news. Have had articles in newspapers interviewing us. Spoke at the State Capitol to help pass a digital well being bill. Have been key note speakers at a couple events. We also work closely with a nonprofit called Thumbs Up that raises money for mental health and suicide prevention. Due to Shannon and I’s lived experiences, we got HealthPartners on board to be Title Sponsors the last two years at our annual race in September! After our kids died, we have had numerous parents reaching out to us asking for help. They are worried about their kids. The biggest barrier that I think every parent will say is the lack of mental health help out there. It takes months to get in with a therapist. Also, during crisis times, there are no beds available in hospitals or outpatient facilities. We commonly tell parents to use the 988 crisis line for mental health.

Shannon and I wish we were not in the situation that we are in. I am so thankful I have Shannon in my life. We are in a club no one wants to be part of. Us sharing our story is our therapy, helping others. We try to make an extremely negative situation into something positive to help others. If we can save one life, we have done our jobs.