Surrounding suicide has been a loud, deadly silence – a conversation anxiously waiting to be had and met with fear, shame, and adversity. I learned this early in life through my own lived experiences, extending to a loss of a loved one.
In 2012, I experienced hell. A dear friend of mine, a former partner, had taken his life.
Through this loss, and through my own fight with depression, painting became my voice, and it became important to me to connect with people about suicide, depression, and mental illness. The very real nature of these challenges have not been something I’ve been shy to discuss due to the fatal consequences of silencing these conversations. My goal is to invite an audience to talk with me through my paintings to share in an experience where we each heal, even if for a moment.
Through my paintings, I share with the audience the complicated emotions surrounding depression, including confusion, anger, sorrow, and numbness and even touch on the inner vulnerabilities of suicide and self-harm.
My work aims to open a conversation with those impacted so that they may feel empowered to share their own journey, no matter where they may be.
My work and interest in advocating for mental health and suicide prevention lead me to take a chance applying for a role where I could use my skills in graphic design and marketing to help prevent suicide in a more active manner: at Crisis Connections. I’ve worked here for over a year now, where I continue to invite people from all walks to share their stories in times of crisis and in times of healing. I will begin volunteering with one of our new programs CC Cares next year – a program from suicide loss survivors for suicide loss survivors. I strongly believe we need more postvention support in order to proactively prevent more suicides from occurring.
At the end of the day, I hope to use my skills to welcome people to openly talk about the challenges they face, in hopes that eventually, we can carve out enough light in the world through support to see people through their darkest days.
My work can be found at www.melissadebarr.com. Although, my last name is now Butler.