Woman writes book to help those who’ve lost someone to suicide

By Heather Ruenz

SLN staff

It took a series of family tragedies for R. Jade McAuliffe to awaken from decades of darkness and self-sabotage. The agony of losing her last living sister to suicide just over four years ago left only enough energy to deal with her grief.

“I knew then I had to face the pain of my past or risk losing myself for good,” she said.

She doesn’t talk about the pain from her childhood other than saying it involved complex child abuse.

Her sisters couldn’t talk about it, either, she said.

“I was the first to remember. Elizabeth was next but Suzanne never mentioned it until shortly before she died,” McAuliffe said of her sisters.

Suzanne died “tragically and suddenly” at the age of 39, according to McAuliffe and Elizabeth died by suicide at the age of 56.

“My sister, Elizabeth, was my rock so when she died it hit me hard and I wondered if I was going to be next,” she said.

But McAuliffe decided to face her past and listen to her inner voice to begin to heal from the inside out.

“People are so afraid of grieving. And if it was suicide, there are so many questions, which we should be respectful of,” she said.

McAuliffe said there’s a stigma attached to suicide and people view it as a selfish act when it’s really a desperate one.

“People in that situation make that decision in a split second,” she said.

The most harmful thing following a suicide, according to McAuliffe, is not talking about it.

“That doesn’t help the family at all. The more you shove it under the rug, the harder it is for them to find their way through that grief,” she explained.


Helping while healing

Within the process of her own healing, she joined the Walworth County Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide awareness and prevention, and volunteers for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Healing Conversations Program, which offers personal support to survivors of suicide loss.

McAuliffe also started a blog, No Parameters, as a way to keep, honor and share her grief poetry and stories but said she knew that blog needed to be more.

“I wanted to give other survivors permission to live authentically, so they could accept their own stories and live life after loss on their own terms,” she said, so she began offering coaching services.

Later, she decided to write a book on how suicide survivors could help themselves through the grief.

“Wake Me from the Nightmare” was released as an eBook on Amazon last fall. It quickly became a bestseller and was picked up by Morgan James Publishing in New York. The paperback is now available for pre-order and it will be in bookstores Nov. 12.

“It basically validates you showing up in life as you are. It’s appropriate for teenagers and adults and the goal is for it to be helpful for anyone going through grief or those trying to help others who are… family, friends, clergy, therapists and so on,” she said.

McAuliffe said she still has tough days.

“I still struggle but my kids have always given me purpose. They teach me more than I’ve learned from others,” she said.


Where to get help

If you or someone you know needs help, the following resources will connect you with a live person 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-8255;
  • Crisis Text Line, text “hello” to 741741;
  • Veterans Crisis Line, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or send a text to 838255.

Additional resources include: to reach Spanish-speaking crisis counselors call 1-888-628-9454; visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at afsp.org; visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention at iasp.info.

McAuliff has written articles for numerous publications, been the guest speaker at a local National Alliance for Mental Illness meeting and been a featured guest on some radio shows but said she is always looking for ways to connect.

“I’d like to see more people get involved with the Walworth County Suicide Prevention, Education and Awareness Coalition. I also would like to get a peer support group started here,” she said.

For more information send an email to McAuliffe at rmcauliffe@noparameters.org or visit noparameters.org.


1 Comment

  1. This is a GREAT review of an extremely important & insightful book.

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