Father’s Day is a day of mixed emotion for me. It’s a day in which I am thankful of the values my father instilled in me, a day in which I can celebrate the accomplishments of my son, and a day remembrance of the daughter I lost to suicide.
Although Amanda will always be 18 years old on Father’s Day, her loss taught me how to express emotion, show compassion and gain an understanding of depression. Not wanting any family to have to go through what we went through with Amanda’s death my wife, son and I started to educate ourselves abut mental illnesses, suicide warning signs and what steps to take when we someone is at risk.
Since her death I have been involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which has provided me with the tools to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from different forms of mental illness and support those who are left behind after a loss. I am involved in many different activities as an advocate of suicide prevention and mental health awareness as a Chapter Board Member, an advocate, a survivor of suicide loss, and as a father.
Sharing my experience, and honoring Amanda in conversations with others who have lost loved ones or who are struggling themselves gives them a safe person and an understanding ear. It sometimes gives them the first person that they feel comfortable opening up to about this subject. It often gives them hope.
When I’m on campus talking to students who are overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed or talking to an adult who feels lost in today’s world, I feel I can lend an ear, ask the right questions, explain there are other available outcomes and direct them to help if needed. After all, isn’t that was a Father does.
Gordon Doughty is the board chair for the San Francisco Chapter of AFSP.
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