My name is Anna Grace Claunch and I am 20 years old. For several years I walked in the Out of the Darkness Walk with the Peer Helpers program at Fairhope High School. I never thought that I would one day participate in the Walk to honor my own father.
On November 7th, 2012, my dad lost his life to suicide. I was a senior in high school, my older sister was a junior in college, and my little sister was in the 4th grade. His death was devastating. My parents had a special marriage… they loved each other until the day he died.
My dad showed no signs of depression. Every morning he woke up early to run before work, and he would always end his day by reading a story to my little sister. We were having hard times financially because my dad’s job was ending, but he showed no signs of concern, so we did not worry. My dad didn’t have the strength to tell us the reality of our financial situation or the depression he was experiencing. On November 7th, he changed our lives forever.
I want people to know that losing a loved one to suicide is not something anyone will ever overcome, and time does not heal all wounds. If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, the most important thing you can do is understand that the pain never goes away. It does not matter if it has been 2 months or 30 years, it never gets “easier.” It has been almost 3 years since my dad’s death, and I am still hurting just as much today as I was on the day he died, and these feelings will always be with me. That is why I want people to know my story. Suicide is everywhere, but we can prevent it.
In the words of my mom, Ann Claunch:
“My daughters who have all been Peer Helpers in their schools participated in the Out of the Darkness walk honoring teen friends we lost to suicide. I never thought that my loving husband and adoring father of our 3 girls was depressed, let alone suicidal.
I knew healthcare reform was impacting his business and our home value was depreciating. Many of our friends were in the same boat. He was active in our church and community and enjoyed running every morning before work. He had a very healthy lifestyle. He worked hard to build his career and was successful. My job for the past 21 years has been to take care of our children and support John’s career by relocating and helping kids adjust in new communities while he traveled and worked hard.
John ended his life almost three years ago. After his death, I learned that his job has been in jeopardy for 2 years. He didn’t want to worry us. If only he had shared his pain – we could have all helped him. The aftermath – financially, emotionally, spiritually and physically has been daunting.
I hope our community, churches and schools will continue to reach out to those who could be contemplating suicide.
Together, we can make a difference. One conversation at a time.”
National Suicide Prevention Week September 7 – 13, 2015
National Suicide Prevention Day September 10, 2015