155: Talking About Suicide: Insights from a Daughter Left Behind // Sarah Grotenhuis

This time of year is heavy for me because it was three years ago in November that we lost my son’s birth-mother Katie to suicide. Which is why I feel it’s so important to know how to talk about suicide.

Every year in November, I plan to do something to commemorate Katie in some way–an episode on mental health, adoption, or grief. This year, I wanted to talk more specifically about suicide, and I was so touched to get an episode proposal from a mom who has an incredibly personal perspective on depression and suicide, as she lost her beloved mother to suicide in 2016. Over the last four years, she has tried to process that experience and put into words the lessons that she learned from her mother’s life and death, and I am beyond honored that she would share such a very personal and important message with us today.

How to Talk About Suicide

Sarah Grotenhuis is a mom of two who lives in New England. She calls herself a “reluctant home -schooler and dance party enthusiast” and goes on to say, “While I love to focus on the happy, light, and fun, I always strive for transparency in my personal struggles – namely, losing my mother to suicide in 2016. Through this experience, I’ve learned a great deal about forgiveness, compassion, and resilience – topics I try to share with others.”

In this episode we discuss…

  • Why it’s important to remember that mental illness is a disease, not a character flaw or lack of willpower
  • How to explain suicide to young children
  • Why we should say “died from suicide” instead of “committed suicide”
  • How to process the complicated emotions that come along with suicide (guilt, anger, betrayal)
  • Why suicidal thoughts as a symptom of a disease, not an ominous prediction 
  • How to move towards healing and joy, even if that feels impossible
  • “The ones we love do not want us to hurt the way that they hurt.” 

How has your life been touched by suicide? What advice would you add to this conversation? Share your story in the comments.


Many thanks to this month’s sponsor, BetterHelp, the world’s largest provider of online therapy. Go to betterhelp.com/3in30 to get 10% off your first month.

Coming Soon!

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108: How to Get Help for Mental Illness // Sarah McKenna