Life Journeys: Participant Bios
Dawn lost her husband, David, to suicide in 1993. He left behind two sons, ages five and 11, and a failing business with a mountain of financial problems. At the time Dawn vowed, “This is going to change our lives, but it’s not going to ruin them.” Dawn is now a congregational care pastor at a large church in Dallas, Texas, where she exercises her passion for helping people in emotional pain, especially survivors of suicide loss. Both of her sons are doing well, and Dawn became a grandmother in 2015. “It wasn’t easy,” Dawn says, “but the family is now thriving, not just surviving.”
Dan lost his father to suicide in February 1990, five days after his 19th birthday. “To say I dealt with my father’s suicide poorly would be to imply that I dealt with it at all,” Dan writes. “I spent several years in a state of denial, unable and unwilling to deal with my feelings of loss, anger, abandonment, and insignificance.” In time, Dan found his path to healing. He currently serves on the board of AFSP’s Capital Region New York chapter, and devotes much of his spare time to fundraising and survivor outreach.
Bill and his wife, Anne, lost their son, Chris, to suicide the day before Christmas 2006, despite their years-long efforts to help Chris battle his depression. Chris was 19 when he died, and left behind a son who was a mere 10 weeks old at the time. Since their son’s suicide, Bill and Anne have been involved in multiple AFSP programs in an attempt to help other families avoid a similar tragedy, or offer them support in the wake of a suicide loss. Bill has participated in six AFSP Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks. He writes, “We walk to turn our grief into positive actions that will help to save lives. We walk because it is the right thing to do.”
Bill’s daughter, Kate is Chris’s younger sister. She describes Chris as “a great friend and brother.” After his death, Kate remembers being concerned about her parents’ well-being, which left her feeling alone. She was able to find support through friends while sharing her parents’ grief. Since Chris’s death, Kate has participated in many AFSP Out of the Darkness Community Walks, has provided bereavement support to her peers, and has been dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues, depression, and suicide. Kate works as a project manager at a lighting design firm in New York City.
Karen lost her husband, Maurice, to suicide in 2006, and became a stay-at-home mother to their two young children. Since Maurice was an Army veteran, Karen eventually chose to work with one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit agencies serving veterans in Western New York. “Serving our area veterans brings me much joy and truly makes me feel like I am honoring Maurice’s memory.” In her spare time, Karen devotes herself to suicide prevention and education, and participates in AFSP’s International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day program. She writes, “My volunteer work has allowed me to connect with so many wonderful people on this journey, and for that, I am eternally grateful.”
K.D. “Mo” Krausman
Mo’s twin brother, Kent, took his own life in 2003 at the age of 43. Kent’s suicide, Mo writes, was “stunning, devastating, and seemingly ‘out of the blue.’” In his quest to understand Kent’s death, Mo learned about mental health, suicide, and the issues facing those left behind. He has dedicated himself to providing resources and comfort to fellow survivors of suicide loss — as a support group facilitator and outreach volunteer in his home state of Florida, as a member of AFSP’s national Loss and Healing Council, and as a longtime participant in the organization’s Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks.
Marilyn survived the suicide of her 14 year-old daughter, Aiko, in 2003. “Aiko’s life is worth celebrating, and we do,” she says. “Her death was horrific but it did happen; the only thing that will give it meaning is my response to it.” Marilyn has been a volunteer facilitator for suicide bereavement support groups for 11 years, first in the Glendale Adventist Beyond Loss program and currently at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in Southern California. For seven years she was also a volunteer telephone counselor on the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Crisis Line.
WyKisha lost her brother, Johnny Madison, to suicide in 2004. “The hardest part of this journey is learning who I am again, beyond being ‘Johnny’s little sister,’” she writes. WyKisha credits her healing to the support of her husband and two children, and to the work she has done to help others in crisis. Her background includes managing the local crisis hotline, conducting trainings on suicide prevention, facilitating support groups, and serving as a founding board member of AFSP’s Southeast Texas chapter. Currently, WyKisha is the health outreach director for the Children’s Defense Fund in Houston, Texas, and is working toward her master’s degree in nonprofit organizational management.
Clarena Tobon Guevara
Clarena lost her mother, Maria Guevara, to suicide in 2007. Clarena was born in Colombia and lives in Texas, but it wasn’t until her travels brought her to Fairbanks, Alaska, that she found a suicide loss support group that set her on her path to healing. “That group saved me,” she says. Clarena now facilitates a support group of her own and runs a nonprofit whose mission it is to educate local communities about suicide prevention and to offer resources and hope to those affected by suicide. She writes, “Losing my mother was the hardest thing I’ve had to go through; I never would have thought that it would shape my purpose years later.”
Bill lost his wife, Carolyn, a recently retired police officer, to suicide in 2006, when their daughter was five years old. As a former police officer himself, Bill is dedicated to raising awareness about PTSD, suicide, and other mental health issues in first responder communities, and speaks regularly to first responder groups and at law enforcement academies. He also advocates for mental health maintenance as a regular component of the ongoing training for public safety officers. Bill currently works as a news producer, writer, and editor, and serves on the board of AFSP’s Westchester, New York, chapter.