Why Me, Why Now
My father died by his own hand in Kansas on the morning of September 9, 1981. I was three years old.
Throughout my life, I’ve been growing into his name, genetics and mannerisms, as well as an unending series of questions about who he was and how much of him – and his illness – I may have in me. As the saying goes: like father, like son; I was afraid that his life narrative would inevitably be mine.
Despite being unconditionally loved by a dynamic, powerful mom and supportive community, I grew up ashamed being the son of a man who took his own life. I often felt guilty, thinking that my ‘terrible twos’ and I were somehow to blame. Mostly, I was angry with him for taking his life and leaving me fatherless with an avalanche of questions and sadness.
Though suicide is prevalent - it is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States - before this project, I had never discussed my fatherloss with another man who had also lost his father to suicide. Thirty years of waiting for an opportunity to share with someone like me had its effect. I began craving to learn how other men have chartered their own path of adulthood and healing in the wake of the suicide of their fathers. I read books and scoured online, but I found the predominantly academic-focused content fell short of my needs.
I wanted to hear stories directly from similarly affected men and I wanted to learn from them. I also wondered how my younger self might have benefited from seeing men who were working through their emotions and challenges of not having a father in a society that excels at shaming suicide victims and survivors.
Then I realized I should stop just wondering and start doing.
After all, I have spent the past ten years supporting advocates in harnessing the power of storytelling, technology and multimedia tools to advance human rights and social change campaigns. It was time to invest my skills and energy on the issue that most affected me personally.
So, dear reader, here we are. Thanks for being part of our project.