Created by John Corriveau
“They will all be better off without me,” he said.
Three AM on Saturday morning, my caller wanted to kill himself and needed someone to hear his story.
As a crisis line listener, I’d heard this phrase hundreds of times. Not true, I thought, but didn’t have words to explain why. I didn’t see the depth of a survivor’s pain or emotional hole left in suicide’s wake.
But I was offered the chance to photograph survivors for an ad campaign with the Mental
Health Foundation of West Michigan. I heard some of their compelling stories and decided they needed more exposure.
A husband holds with an insulin injector like the one his wife of 11 years used to end her life. Or a wife still wears her husband’s wedding ring on a chain after he hanged himself.
A sister remembers her younger brother’s love of Starbucks, after he ended his life through a self-inflicted gunshot. Parents remember their son’s high school wrestling career, another pair hold the puzzle box a daughter and mother worked on the night before the daughter’s death. One mother wears bluebird earrings in remembrance of her college-age son’s favorite song. A favorite book of an adult son keeps a memory alive for his parents.
Survivors use their smiles to cover injured souls and hide that empty space in their hearts.
Each wants people to know there is a cost to suicide and they are the ones paying it. No
one is ever better off without you.S
These are their stories:
Rick & Jeni Fritz
Listen to Rick's Story
Listen to Jeni's Story
Listen to Chris's Story
Julie & Matt Gregory
Listen to Julie's Story
Listen to Matt's Story
Mary Beth Grey-Lughod
Sue Tomen & Richard Tenhoor
Listen to Sue's Story
John is a local photographer and mental health advocate. He volunteers at Network 180 and answers the phone when someone is in crisis. He understands the importance of speaking up about mental health and suicide.