Jody "You Are Not A Burden"

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Randy Bacon with 7 Billion Ones in partnership with National Alliance on Mental Illness Southwest Missouri (NAMI) are proud to announce a major, multifaceted portrait art exhibition, story and short film series:

It Knows No Face

Portraits of Suicide Survivors.

Learn more HERE

Jody’s Story:

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

It was a rainy night. I had just gotten home and put on my pajamas when the phone rang. The lady at the other end said my daughter Kyla was unresponsive. We got in the car and started to Springfield. The roads were flooded. We had to turn around and take another road. My husband drove and I cried all the way there, praying to God, “Please don’t take Kyla”. We got there with flashing lights everywhere. I ran in and they wouldn’t let me see my baby. I begged and pleaded, kicked and screamed. That’s when they told me she was gone. Why wouldn’t they let me be with her? What was going on? My head was spinning. I went out in the rain to her car and screamed and cried. My oldest daughter made me come back in. Whey they brought her out I couldn’t believe it! I expected her to sit up, I just knew it was a mistake! I didn’t want to let her go. I told the police officer they needed to investigate, find out who did this, I told them Kyla would not take her life.

Her phone history told a different story; Kyla did take her life. She had been sending text messages to her dad’s phone (who had passed away earlier in that year) that said she felt alone, we would be better off without her, she didn’t want to burden any of us with her problems and thought our lives would just go on without her.

As I sit now with a picture of my daughter smiling back at me, I think of who Kyla was. She was definitely one of the brightest parts of my life. She was always jumping around singing, smiling and goofing off. Her eyes and smile lit up the room. She was a college student. She had such a big helping heart. She loved animals of all kinds. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for anyone.

It’s not like I didn’t know loss, I lost both my parents and my grandma at ten. I’ve lost three sisters and two brothers, but nothing prepared me for losing my daughter to suicide. She was the light of my life. I never expected that phone call that broke my heart into a million pieces. When you lose a child, your surviving children not only lose a sibling, they lose a mother, in a sense.

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I wish I knew why Kyla took her life and had the chance to help her. That haunts me every second of every day. The truth is all I can do is guess. She never talked to me about her problems. A year and a half before taking her life she came out that she was gay. Then in February of 2015 (the same year she took her own life), her dad passed away. She was going to counseling but she wouldn’t talk to me about it.

It’s been almost three years since she died and there’s an emptiness in my heart and family. Something's always missing from pictures, holidays, our family. My heart is and always will be broken. I feel guilty, sad, lonely, hopeless. I’m afraid. The grief will go on forever. I will always feel the pain of losing my daughter. This doesn’t seem real. This can’t be my life. I close my eyes and I see her smile and her face, but I can’t touch her. I want to talk to her,  to hear her voice. Suicide takes your depression and gives it to someone else. My mind races all day! Why didn’t I know my daughter was in that much pain? I feel guilty for not knowing. I feel like I failed my daughter. I wonder how I am going to go on each day missing her so much, hurting so much. I wonder why I didn’t call her that day? The questions never stop in my head. The guilt! Why didn’t I do something before it was too late?

Since I lost Kyla, my mind spins constantly on how I can do things in her memory to help other people. I adopted a highway, sponsored a kennel at the Humane Society, took a mental health first aid training class, an SOS class, I spoke at a health class on suicide awareness. My biggest venture is that I opened a thrift store, Kyla’s Kloset Everlasting ;

(I added the semicolon in the store’s title for suicide awareness - it means pause, but keep going, don’t give up, don’t quit) in memory of Kyla. The proceeds go to suicide awareness/prevention and single mothers. The store also has a resource center that has fliers for different agencies that can help with mental illness and suicide and I have a lot of individuals that come in to talk that have lost someone to suicide or have tried it themselves.

What I would like to see is more people reaching out and talking about suicide. Talk to your children about suicide and listen to them, really listen! Get them help. The question, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” is a hard one, but it could save your child’s life. We have to break this cycle of insecurity, loneliness, emptiness and find hope and healing. I want people to know; You are not a burden!

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Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

Brought to you in partnership with:

7Billion Ones, Annie Busch, NAMI Southwest Missouri, and Touchstone Counseling