Larry "Missing Puzzle Piece”

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

Larry’s Story:

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

I have been blessed to have three amazing kids, Christopher, Stefan and Jadyn. On August 5th 2008, my first born son, Christopher, was laid to rest after taking his own life. I was a firefighter and then a police officer for years, and Christopher was always so proud of his dad. Growing up without a father, I always wanted to be the father I never had to my three kids. Those kids are what I live for every day. My kids have always been my whole life.

Christopher’s suicide was a surprise to me. At the time, I was the deputy sheriff, thinking I knew my son; but he was struggling. He had graduated high school in 2007 and it was just a little over a year following before he took his life, and you would think he’d be in the happiest place. He’d just graduated from high school, had a lot going for him...but Chris was struggling to find his own way, he didn’t know where he was going, and he was just lost. He was the most personable, likeable kid you’d ever met. He could brighten up a room just by walking in, he was the biggest goofball. Kids always said if you were down about something, Christopher would be the person to bring you up. So were we surprised when he took his life? Completely. Chris surprised everybody. We all knew him as this cheerful, likeable, fun kid. But again, he was struggling with a lot of things. Unfortunately, as we knew then and we know now, he dabbled in drugs and we tried to help him with that. I even took him to seek help through outpatient drug treatment. He lost. He didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t see his future. He didn’t see what was in front of him.

Chris was such a part of his family. His grandmother and uncles loved Christopher like he was their own son. We were all devastated. Chris was very close with his brother and sister and they were what he lived for. He just touched people’s lives. I felt so sad for his friends. I could see it in their lives that they were lost. They didn’t know what to do. That person that they called to say, “Hey can you come help me?”...he wasn’t there anymore. Even ten years later, to say my son is not here, that I can’t talk to him, I can’t ask him how he’s doing... I can’t think about him getting married one day or having kids or his future’s crazy. I can’t even put it into words. He is like a missing puzzle in my life. I keep wanting to put that missing puzzle piece back but I can’t. It’s just not there. That puzzle piece will never be replaced. I have to keep going on, but I can’t go back. I can’t go back and get him. I can’t go back and help him. He’s just gone.

My daughter and son keep me going. My middle son just graduated from college with a master’s degree, so now my whole focus is to help him find employment, and get him in a place where he wants to be. And then my fifteen year old daughter, you know, obviously we’ve got to get her through life, keep her going. She’s a teenager. So being in my kids lives is what gets me through. That’s what keeps me going. And you know what, Chris would want me to be there, to help out his brother and his sister because he can't. We’ve got to be here taking care of the people we love. I know Chris would be here saying, “Dad you’ve got to take care of them”, because he loved his brother and his sister. So I have to be here for them, and hopefully I can show them that no matter the adversity and no matter the tragedy, we can make it through together.

After my son died, I went out and started doing suicide prevention. I had to study because I didn’t know anything about suicide prevention, the signs, the symptoms, what to look for. A big reason I started talking to people about suicide awareness and prevention, is because I didn’t want another parent to have to go through what I went through. Talk to your kids, ask them how they’re doing. Don’t just later wish you’d said something. I heard someone once say that it’s important to remind people that are struggling, that the pain is only temporary; so that’s what I say often. Whatever you’re going through, it’s just temporary. I tell people, “Don’t take a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Ask for help. Don’t be that missing puzzle piece in your family and friends lives.

Today I have so much to live for. I am so proud of my middle son who has taken time to get educated, and get his master’s degree. And to see my daughter who has such a creative mind and is someone that deeply loves people. They make me so proud. I can be so proud of all three of my kids; Christopher, Stefan, and Jadyn. That they are somebody’s best friend. And in these days, you’ve just gotta have a best friend.

August 2018

Larry Herron006-.jpg

Brought to you in partnership with:

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