Thursday, March 28, 2013

Learning to Live after a Father’s Suicide

A woman’s journey from a loss that knocked her down to a sisterhood that picked her up.

On December 12th, 2009, my life changed forever. I was a junior in high school and I was taking my ACT test for the first time. I was pulled out of my test and sent home; that’s when I found out my daddy had committed suicide. I felt like my world was tumbling down and for a moment, it stopped. It’s been nearly three years since I was taken out of that ACT test to the worst news of my life. I miss my dad every day.

He suffered from bipolar disorder, meaning a lot of highs and a lot of lows and it eventually lead to my parent’s divorce. While this disorder took my father from me, it also showed me the depths of a mother’s love and strength.

My mom was my primary caregiver and after my father’s death. Things got harder for her too.  She tried her best and kept our family together. It was not easy but she managed and she is the strongest person I know.  She takes care of me and my two younger brothers; she goes above and beyond to help us and make sure that we have a chance at whatever we want in life. We all miss my dad, but she tries to help in any way she can and that is more than I could ask from her.
I was devastated when I lost my dad. It hurt for a long time, but I eventually found ways to cope. I taught myself about suicide prevention and the warning signs.  I learn new things about suicide prevention and awareness every day. I ordered a pin that I wear on special days like his birthday, death day, suicide awareness week and survivors of suicide day. Having this knowledge and telling people about it helps me honor my dad.  I love to tell happy stories about my dad, like the time he took me to see Rob Thomas in concert or took me on a ride in the Memphis trolley for the first time. These memories help me smile and keep me going.

This experience has made me a much stronger person. It made me realize that I can go through anything and not give up. I wanted to make my daddy proud and I feel like I can say that I have. Even though I suffered a tremendous loss, on November 18th, 2012, I gained an entire sisterhood with Delta Gamma. These women are one-of–a-kind and are always here to help me when I get sad about missing my dad. In fact, one sister, Kaley, understood more than anyone. Her father had passed away too and she understood what I was feeling. It was indescribable to finally find someone who could relate to my struggle.

Tressie Cochran, Delta Zeta- Memphis,  is a sophomore. She is majoring in Human Services and plans to work in the social work field. You can contact Tressie at

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:                
“More than 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year. It is this country's 10th leading cause of death, and is often characterized as a response to a single event or set of circumstances. However, unlike these popular conceptions, suicide is a much more involved phenomenon. “

According to the National Institute of Mental Health Bi-Polar Disorder is defined as, “Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”

For information on bipolar disorder and suicide prevention click here:

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