May 12, 2017 – Mom, wife, sister, friend, nurse, and daughter. These were just a few of the titles my mother held. Her passion for helping others was always at the forefront of her life. Tammy Colligan Gore died by suicide on April 20, 2003: a day that my family and I will never forget. My mother’s struggle with mental illness was not known to many of the people who knew her. She tried her best to hide the pain she lived with, and did it well.
I am still struck 14 years later by the widespread lack of awareness surrounding mental illness and suicide. I promised her that one day I would be a voice for her and take her story and use it to help others. I became involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2014. Since becoming a part of AFSP I have helped to fulfill my promise to her. I have been instrumental in chartering Louisiana’s chapter and have also chaired Out of the Darkness Community Walks in my hometown since 2013.
As a nurse, my mom understood the physiological aspects of her illness, but tried to keep her struggles with mental illness hidden from others out of fear of being stigmatized. AFSP is working tirelessly to stop suicide by funding important research and providing many opportunities for education. By reaching out into our communities on many levels we can educate society and reach our goal of reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.
Through education programs, grants, research, community walks, campus walks, advocacy, and all the various avenues designed to reach out to society we can bring light to mental illness and break the stigma attached to those who struggle. Mental illness is not a terminal disease: it is treatable, it is manageable, and we can work through it. I know my mother would have benefited from AFSP and all that it strives to accomplish. Together we can make tomorrow better.
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