July 13, 2024 Donate


Losing a Loved One to Suicide

By Carleen Nelson-Nesvig STN Writer

Because September was Suicide Prevention Month in Michigan and October is Mental Health Awareness month, I feel compelled to share our family’s story of suicide. We lost my youngest grandson Lucas Ryan to suicide in May of 2018. He was twenty-two years old, with a promising future. He was an entertainer. He had the voice of an angel and loved to perform for others. His laugh was contagious, and his smile could melt your heart. He completed our family. Now he is the missing but never forgotten piece of our family puzzle.

For generations members of my family have been challenged with depression, and anxiety disorders. A condition that my grandson was not able to escape from and IT eventually took his life. While he fought with all his might, took medication to control his moods and used therapy as required, a trigger took him from us. I am not speaking of a gun trigger, but actual words. Words of negative self-talk or the words of others. Words for someone with depression can often times be the deadliest. They certainly were for Lucas. He is gone. No matter how hard we pray that we are just having a nightmare and when we wake up, he will be there with us. Our family is forever broken from losing Lucas.

My hope is that in reading this article you will find some of the answers you are looking for. That if you know someone with depression you will try to understand their struggles, lighten their load, and find them the love and support they need to survive in a world that is not always kind.

My family has learned firsthand that depression is a disease that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called “major depressive disorder” or “clinical depression,” it affects how they feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. According to experts those with depression disorders may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities such as sleeping, eating, or working and sometimes they may feel as if life isn’t worth living. For Lucas, all three of these were issues. He was up all hours of the night. Few foods delighted him. And because he had no energy, he was pretty inactive except to play his guitar, which brought him peace. He lacked muscle mass from lack of movement and was unable to sustain any kind of work for long periods of time. For some suffering from depression, self-medicating and hygiene issues become evident. Others feel unworthy and have self-esteem issues.

(L-R) Michael E. Silvasi (Luke’s oldest Brother), an RN working with youths suffering from Mental illness disorder in Allegan County. Matthew E. Silvasi (next oldest) recently graduated from Southern Oregon University and is now in private mental health practice. Edward E. Nesvig, author’s husband.

Depression has been defined by experts as a form of mental illness. My Grandson Matthew, now a licensed therapist, said, “Most individuals do not understand or appreciate the affects that depression has on the individual suffering from it. Those afflicted are often perceived as lazy, unfeeling, impatient, angry, negative, lacking self-esteem, unable to fully function, incapable of earning a living, or lack relational skills. Depression and other mental illnesses can easily be misunderstood as something shameful and not discussed or even managed properly, making the situation unbearable.”

Depression disorders are more than just being in a mood. Those suffering can’t simply “snap out” of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. Many people with depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy, or both.”

I wish I could tell you that this treatment is always enough, but I’ve learned it isn’t. It also takes a world of understanding, encouragement, patience, support, a hand up, a gentle smile, their knowledge that you are there for them, and a watchful eye for bullies and folks that don’t understand these kinds of afflictions.

Maybe you remember the tale of Winnie the Pooh, in which Piglet simply sat quietly beside his dear friend during a challenging day and whispered, “I’ll always be by your side.” Life is invariably unpredictable. Take a moment to sit beside someone you cherish.

Photos courtesy of Carleen Nelson Nesvig