Hope Equals Life

Get Help | 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline (988.ca)

Follow Us

Hope equals life

Katy’s Lived Experience with Suicide

As a front-line police officer, I have attended many suicide scenes in my career, and always felt the pain, grief, and overwhelming sadness of loved ones left behind. I never thought that I would grieve the loss firsthand, until I lost my own father to suicide on Friday February 17, 2017. The day after my wedding anniversary, and all the while having a newborn baby and a toddler to care for, I found my dad tragically deceased.

My world as I knew it completely changed that day. He had been struggling for many years, and battled depression most of his life. In the year leading up to his death, he fought with all his might. I was with him daily, so this is something I can say with certainty.  He sought inpatient and outpatient support, engaged his family doctor and psychiatrist, and did everything he could to try to “feel better”. In the end, he took his own life, and I struggle to accept his decision, but have learned that I need to, in order to move on with my life. I miss him dearly and some days are certainly better than others, especially now that I have four sons of my own.  I can’t help but think of the memories my dad is missing out on not being with us anymore. 

Connecting with people who have been through a similar loss was something that I was looking for. As a police officer, I often refer people to “Victim Services”, and for the first time in my life, I reached out to them the day after my dad died. Within a day, I was connected with Bernadette and just hearing her voice after knowing that she had lost a loved one by suicide, comforted me in some strange way. She explained that there was an S.O.S (Survivors of Suicide) support group that ran one evening a week for 10 weeks and that I could take part in the next session. Thankfully, I only had to wait two months. In the meantime, I started doing all the tedious tasks that accompany being the executor to an estate.  I was full of anxiety and hesitation attending my first SOS meeting. It was held at the CMHA building in Barrie and as soon as I walked in, I was greeted with a hug. I instantly felt understood and knew that I was in the right place. As much as my dear family and friends showered me in love and support, I felt like I needed to talk to others who were survivors of suicide loss. I had experienced death before, but this was different. I found there were so many more emotions and found it difficult to navigate the grief, sadness, anger, and feelings of guilt and even betrayal. 

By meeting weekly with other people who have experienced a similar loss of a loved one by suicide, it created a safe place where we could share in each others pain and yet be there to support one another. Believe it or not, we shared lots of laughs together, and inevitably lots of tears together too. I have made personal, lifelong friendships with some of the group members, and although I wish we met under different circumstances, I am certainly grateful for our connections. 

I have been part of the Simcoe County Suicide Awareness Council ever since meeting Bernadette and am truly thankful for the amazing team of volunteers who are part of our council. We strive to raise awareness, provide support, and reduce stigma. We recognize that there is stigma associated with mental illness. Although we don’t have all the answers, we will continue to work together to break down the barriers and provide support.  When it comes to mental health, everyone is affected one way or another. The reasons are personal and not always known, but by working together as a community, we can create awareness about suicide and mental illness, support those who have been affected by suicide, and promote suicide prevention. I urge anyone struggling to reach out for help and know that you are not alone. I also urge anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide, to know that you are not alone and that there are supports in place to help you in your grief journey.

A person in a police uniform
Description automatically generated A family sitting on a couch
Description automatically generated A person in a police uniform
Description automatically generated A person and person posing for a picture
Description automatically generated

Share this