September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Read and share stories to honor survivors whose loved ones died by gun suicide.

100,803
total hearts received for Moments That Survive

Khary Penebaker

In memory of Joyce

Thirty-nine years ago, she left a note … drove on the freeway … pulled over and sat in the car by herself. She put the black revolver to her head and pulled the trigger. My mom, Joyce, was only 27 years old. She was pronounced dead at 8:34 a.m. “Bullet wound of head … shot self with revolver” is what the death certificate says. Thirty-nine years … I have a lifetime of memories clouded with pain rather than a lifetime of memories of her and I.

She, like far too many others, was consumed with a debilitating amount of depression that lied to her. Depression made her think the world, my world, would be better off without her. She was wrong about that. I intimately know what those dark moments are like; those empty feelings and hopeless thoughts … I know what it is like to think about your existence and how bad your circumstances are. I know the lies and tricks that depression overwhelms you with. But it is just a lie designed to convince you to give in and to give up. It is powerful, and gripping, and it seems like, in that isolated moment of despair and desperation, that ending your life is the only option, that there is literally nothing more to live for. I had to face my demons and I had to be present in those dark moments so that I could struggle through them and ultimately survive them. My mom wasn’t able to do that. She didn’t have the coping mechanisms that I’ve learned. I wish she did.

I wish she could’ve struggled through that moment in her car with that gun and been able to see what her son would become … I wish she could’ve seen her granddaughter starting her freshman year of college, watched my 4-year-old starting 4K and riding the bus for the first time and watched my son kick off his fourth grade year with the coolest smile or scoring his first touchdown. I wish she could’ve seen how beautiful Amanda looked on our wedding day. She missed every success and failure I’ve ever had. She missed my entire life. I don’t have any #MomentsThatSurvive, because my mom had easier access to a gun than to mental healthcare. I wish she would’ve held me rather than that gun.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.

100,803