My sister Casi was the oldest. She was beautiful, blonde, a talented singer and runner; achieved great grades in school. She was perfect in my eyes—in only the way oldest siblings are to us younger ones.Two years younger than her was my brother Paul. Paul was tall, had black curly hair, and green eyes like my mom. Paul was also a talented singer; although, what I remember most about Paul was that he was funny – a goof ball really. And Paul cared deeply about including others and making us younger siblings feel “special.”
Monica, Philip, me, and Patrick made for 6 of us in total: 3 boys and 3 girls. We were the Brady Bunch! There was a time growing up that I really believed we had the perfect family.
On April 4th 1995, Paul died by suicide in his childhood room. He was 17 years old.
The night before he died, Paul and my dad had gotten into an argument. To this day I have no idea what the argument was about – all I remember was being scared because we really didn’t grow up in a yelling household.
My bed laid across from the hallway door – Paul’s room was right next to mine. And I could see the light shining from under his door thinking to myself: “Andi, Get out of bed. Go tell him you love him. Give him a hug. Tell him that he and my dad will make amends, and everything will be ok.”
But I didn’t. Instead I hugged my grey, teddy bear and prayed that everything would be ok.
The next morning our lives were forever changed when my mom found Paul in his room. My teddy bear was buried with him a few days later.
On September 5th 1996, we lost Casi at 20 years old.
Suicide changes those left behind in a ways that are unimaginable. Happy memories become ones we ruminate, ones we need to reanalyze to see the “real” picture. Figure out what we could have done differently, better. Grief, anger, resentment, guilt, and disbelief haunt us for years. I found myself as a young adult disassociating with Casi & Paul completely – still angry and ashamed of the choices they had made, and the effect it left on my family.
But then it struck me (suddenly, as so often grief does) at a charity event earlier this year: I yearned for a way to memorialize my brother and sister. To remember Casi & Paul for all of their amazing qualities. To help my family continue to heal these years later. And most importantly, to share their story in a way that could help others who may be struggling.
Unfortunately, stigma and judgement still shroud suicide and mental illness. (Even now, I am terrified to share my story!) But I know the only way to truly memorialize Casi & Paul is to break the pattern of silence many survivors know too well.
Saturday, September 23rd will be my FIRST time participating in AFSP’s “Out of Darkness Walk” in Chicago. And I am SO grateful for your generosity and support to help me raise my goal of $1,000 in memory of Casi & Paul.
Your donation to AFSP will aid in the fight against suicide. Your donation WILL make a difference in people’s lives. Together we WILL SAVE A LIFE!!
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you, and for helping the fight against suicide.
“Keep your nose out of the sky, your heart to God, and your face to the rising sun.”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death.AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide.86% of AFSP’s revenue comes from donations; of which 82% are spent on programs for support, research, education, & advocacy.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in our latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.