October 24, 2017 – As a child of the 60’s, when it came to the topic of mental health, I lived within a code of silence. Any form of mental illness was kept under lock and key so as not to infect others, as the thinking went. Ignorance prevailed during that time, and a lack of awareness perpetuated the problem in many households, including my own.
At the age of six, I found my artist brush. Painting became my way to cope in a home in which we were unable to talk, share, or receive support from others.
Many members of my family struggle with depression, including myself. My stepfather, a psychiatrist and president of the state of Alabama’s Mental Health, built the first psychiatric hospital of its kind, a harbinger of groundbreaking awareness to the state of Alabama.
I have continued to cope with the voice of my brush. In 2013, my sister Shelah lost her son, my dear nephew Wyatt, to suicide. Times truly have changed, though. Greater awareness, help, and support now await those in grief from organizations such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
As a 56-year-old artist and current resident of Birmingham, Alabama, I now run and operate an art gallery, Lassiter Fine Art. It is my profound desire to give back by donating 50 percent of the sales of artwork sold through Lassiter Fine Art, including works by myself and other artists, to AFSP.
My sister Shelah received enormous help from AFSP following her son’s death.* I would now like to pay it forward in hopes that many others will continue to receive the support they need when losing someone to suicide.
I wish to say thank you in advance for any purchases made in honor of Wyatt Dearmon and others we have lost. Working together in this age of growing awareness and enlightenment, I believe we can change the future for those who need help. Let us never return to an era of silenced voices.
For more information on the gallery and to inquire about purchasing an artwork in honor of Wyatt Dearmon, click here.
* Editor’s Note: AFSP offers support services such as the Survivor Outreach Program, which connects survivors of suicide loss with trained peer support volunteers who are survivors of suicide loss themselves.
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