This is a picture of my daughter the night before her Dad took his own life. 4-years old and her first night of ballet class.
Full of joy. Full of innocence. The worst thing that had ever happened to her was dropping her ice cream cone at the county fair.
The next day her Dad waved goodbye to her as we drove off to our play date and then he got in his car and went and shot himself on my Grandpa's land.
I had to sit on her little bed with her and her fuzzy stuffed animals and baby dolls and I had to tell my 4-year old that her Dad had died. She stared at me and then said, "Mama? What does die mean?" It took days, weeks for her to fully understand.......even after she seen him in his coffin.....that he was not ever coming home and that's what die means.
If you are having suicidal thoughts and you have children? Your children will not be better off without you. Your kids need you. Your death will take away some of their innocence. They will have nightmares. They will wake up sweating and screaming. Look at their photo and figure out a way to keep yourself alive on this earth. Don't drop a load of pain, guilt, abandonment, trauma, and grief on their shoulders. They are so little. They need you. Stay. If for nothing else.......if for no one else......stay for them. Find your fight and get yourself the help you deserve so that you can care for your children.
This girl knows things other kids don't know.
She knows how her Dad died. I told her the truth....not the gory and scary details.....but just the plain and simple truth that he hurt himself so that he would die. She knows what suicide is and openly says the word when most adults shy away from it.
She also knows that he was a very loving, kind, and good person who made a very wrong choice.
She knows that he was human, that he was sick, and that he was terrified and she has deep compassion for him because she too knows what it's like to be scared.
She knows that he loved her to the moon and back a billion times and he still does.
Telling her the truth opened up conversations about mental health, love, emotions, strength, grief, God, spirituality, and more. She doesn’t judge him or blame him.....only loves him.
She knows that he didn't leave because he didn't love her but because he had no fight left in him to stay.
She misses him.......we all do.....every day. It’s a soul deep missing when a child loses a parent.
She barely remembers him.
She still loves him.......very, very much.
She will grow up not knowing what it's like to have her very own Dad to protect her, laugh with her, care for her, and love her.
If she grows up someday, gets married, and has children of her own? That will be the first time since she was 4 that she sees first hand in her own home what a Dad does.
I look at this photo and my heart hurts so much for this little girl.
This girl is now 8 and she is happy again. She is joyful, smart, kind-hearted, loving, adventerous, compassionate, and the bravest girl I have ever met in my entire life.
So, you. The guy who is thinking of taking his life. The guy who is sitting at the dinner table right now with his kids and wife eating tacos and you're smiling and you're laughing but in your mind you are planning your own death for the next day?
I'm asking you to stay.
I'm asking you to tell your wife your plans.
I'm asking you to close your eyes and remember being a little kid. Remember how much you loved and needed both of your parents.
Fight for your life.
You belong here on earth.
You are worthy and so, so loved.
Your family needs you.
You belong here on a Tuesday night eating tacos with your kids and your wife laughing at inside jokes only a family understands.
You deserve to watch your children grow up.
You deserve their hugs and kisses and giggles.
They need you.
Maybe pleading with you to stay on this earth won't work. Maybe it's not enough.....maybe you'll still go. I don't know if spreading this love and pleading will work because I never got that chance to do that with my husband. But maybe it will help you. Maybe it will help just one of you and that's why my children and I share our story.
So, you. Please stay.
Yes, they will survive and move forward in their lives if you leave but they won't be better off without you.
They will forever be missing a piece of themselves....a piece of their heart.
Love and strength, Nik Bonkoski
🌻Share this post on Facebook by clicking "share" to spread the awareness. Thank you.🌻Yes, clicking and sharing this exact post on your FB page or in any FB support group is wonderful and helpful to others.
*********©Nikki Bonkoski-2019. I do not give my permission for any website/blog to copy, re-post, and publish my words or my daughter's photo onto their website/blog. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from me, Nik Bonkoski, is strictly prohibited. I do not give permission for this post or photo to be printed and sold for profit. If you would like to use this writing and photo for your mental health/suicide awareness organization, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.***************
In loving memory of my first husband Ryan Tebbe who died by suicide 9-10-15.
If you are struggling with your own mental health, life's hardships, or suicidal thoughts please make a call. Here is a list of suicide and crisis hotlines worldwide.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline-USA
Available 24 hours everyday
Toll-free European number, 00800-1273-TALK (8255).
Text to Talk in USA
Get free help now: Text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States.
Text 686868 in Canada
Global Suicide & Crisis Hotlines
The following are FREE Facebook support groups that I created.
The Brave Ladies Club Facebook Support Group for women who have lost a spouse/partner to suicide. Women from around the world in this group offer each other support, help with children's trauma/PTSD/Grief, friendship, healing, and learning.
Grief Untamed Facebook Support Group for Grief. This group is not specific to suicide loss. It's for any and all grief. There are many families from around the world in this group who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Manhood UntamedFacebook Support Group for men to discuss mental health, life, parenting, relationships, emotions, work, trauma, and more.
I posted the above to Facebook in April of 2018. It has been shared over 400,00 times around the world! It has over 25,000 comments. It has both sides of the suicide topic talking. The families who have lost a loved one to suicide and the people who have struggled or are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
"Thank you so much for sharing this. You need to publish it and have brochures made to hand out all over the world. My mother was murdered and I was able to forgive the stranger. I think when a person that you love takes their own life, a whole different and very difficult range of emotions come into play. May this message get to many who are struggling and save their lives. I’m going to share it here in Virginia. God Bless!"
"Hi, Thank you thank you for your post about your little girl and the picture you posted taken the day before her father took his own life. I only saw this post now because a mate shared it to his FB wall. I have two daughters ages 6 & 4 and have battled through a divorce and have shared custody of them. Two months ago my battle with depression ended in myself breaking up with my loving partner (not the mother of the girls) of a year and a half. I inflicted
Nik, self-harm on myself in the form of breaking up that wonderful relationship that I had with this women whom cared for me so much and cared for my children as if they were her own.
I set myself on the path to beat the depression but over the weekend things clouded in and it became all too hard to bear the continued hurt and regret and anger within myself.
Last night I recorded three goodbye videos. One for each of my two daughters and one for my ex-partner. I wasn’t sure when I was going to end my pain but felt I had to record the goodbye as it was only a matter of when not if.
Having just read your post on the suffering your daughter went through and you of your partner, her father, ending his life I am deleting those recorded goodbye videos. As I no longer need them. I can't bring that level of suffering on those that love me.
So thank you from a stranger whom due to you reaching out and showing the reality of what one quick action can cause so much hurt.......my children will continue to have their father with them.
Thank you so much"
"I want you to know that the story of your husband saved my life. my wife and I had been together for 20 years when she cheated on me. we have 4 kids together and when I found out I was devastated. I tried to do what other people said and just "suck it up" or "get over it". But I couldn't, it was too much. the grief and loss were just too much. For me there was no other option or solution. My mind was made up. All that was left to do was do it. I was on my way to work one morning when the anxiety hit me. I pulled my truck over to the side of the road just down the street from my job. I took out my gun and my phone. My intention was to post an apology to my loved ones on Facebook. When I opened my phone the first thing I saw on my timeline was a picture of your daughter. I didn't want to read it but I did. It made me think of my own children. It also made me think of how I felt when my father passed away from a drug overdose. I decided that day that I would continue to fight because my children are worth it. I hope that your story touches someone else's life the way it did mine. Keep sharing it. It saved me and I hope it will save someone else as well. Thank you. Every time I look at my children I thank God I didn't go through with it. The journey and struggle is still tough. But I find strength in my love for my children. I don't know what else I can say other than I hope that you continue to inspire others the way you did me."
"Hey Nik, I'm sure you get this every day and I know it must be a constant reminder, but thank you for sharing your story. I saw your post today and it hit me as nothing has ever has ever hit me before.
I have a little girl who's coming up on 3 and I'd been planning to take the easy way out on my birthday this year (not far away). I'd gone past the point of depression, and for me it seemed just logical. No one would really miss me, I wouldn't be suffering anymore and my daughter would be looked after by her remaining family.
After reading your post, it put her world into a whole different light for me. The way you said she doesn't remember him, but still loves him, just hit me like a sledgehammer.
Will I make it? I don't know, but I now have a new outlook and a new motivation to be there for her and I have you to thank for that. I'm sincerely sorry for your loss, and wish you the best in life, but having the strength to share has helped me at least, and I'm sure many other people.
"You just saved my children from going through what your precious little one had to go through. Your post regarding suicide came on my feed at a time so necessary. Thank you. I’m sitting in my bathroom at work bawling my eyes out right now. I feel like there’s only one way out but your post gave me the strength to try and find another solution. Thank you. From me and my babies."
We don’t know each other, but some months ago I replied to your post regarding your husbands passing.
To this day I do not know how I came across your post, but it had such a profound impact on me at a time where I was frantically trying to not suicide, not something I wanted, but had to do. I had carried this inner torment for over a year, on the outside a successful businessman with plenty of friends and all the toys which would make most people satisfied, known for being happy and cheerful but all the time hiding my self loathing, waiting for the day it would end and I would be at peace. I had put plans in place with the tools in place to end my life.
I don’t know how but your post appeared, I began to read it began to sob uncontrollably, it was like a switch had flicked in my head, I began to realize what the people around me meant to me, and later, what I mean to them. After a year of nightmares dreaming of my own death, that night they stopped, I had been in the hospital and have been on the road back to being myself,
Sorry if I have ranted too much, I just really wanted you to know where I was when karma put us in touch. Even though we have not or probably never will meet, your sharing of your extremely sad loss you and your daughter have suffered has really contributed to saving my life.
You appeared at the moment my life needed to change, thank you so much.
I think of you often and will always be grateful for the impact you have had on my life,
I still have a way to go, but aren’t we all a work in progress?
Thanks again and I wish you and your family all the joy and happiness you deserve.
"Hi Nik, I have just come across your amazing post, I'm guessing you probably get a lot of messages every day in response to this. And don't worry, I'm not expecting a reply! I just wanted to say that really resonated with me. More than anything I have read regarding the suicide of a parent. Like your daughter, I was 4 when my father hung himself outside my bedroom door (luckily I slept through it) and the approach you took with your daughter with the openness and honesty is honestly something I could have done with, let me tell you, you made the right choice. I didn't find out the truth until I was 18. And my relationship with my mother has suffered greatly because of this. But I am 34 years old and in Ireland, this was the thing to do so I don't blame her. It's just when I read your post I want to send it to everyone I know. It says everything. Thank you.
I wish you and your kids all the best, you deserve it. Thank you so much."