Suicide & My Son

Many of you who know me only as the smiling face on my many selfies - running, wearing colorful bow ties, attending networking events and charity galas - may not know of a darker part of my life: My son took his own life.

I am sharing my story because maybe, just maybe, I can help one of you, one of you who are struggling with depression, with obstacles in your path, or perhaps the everyday challenge of finding a passion for living.

Friends have told me they are afraid to ask me about my son. Let me tell you: I love talking about my son! I adored my son and I am grateful he was part of my life for 29 ½ years. He was a wonderful young man, compassionate, a kind and caring friend, a devoted husband, a wise older brother. He was a clinical pharmacist who took great care of his patients. He was a mentor, a source of strength and guidance to his friends and his sister.

He had a passion for physical fitness and loved being outdoors in nature. He was a devotee of Cross Fit, he completed a Tough Mudder, he ran a half marathon - on a challenge from me - and he raced numerous races where he raised money for charities providing care for critically ill children. He was an accomplished skier who competed in Mogul Free Style and Aerial competitions by the time he was 12. Then he decided to give up skiing and take up snow boarding because that’s where all the “cool kids” were. He was so good at snow boarding that he became an instructor. He was fearless: He didn’t let broken wrists, bruised ribs, a lacerated liver, or a concussion slow him down. He had a passion for snow boarding that he passed on to his friends.

He was an accomplished musician. Trained on the piano he taught himself guitar, bass, and drums. His college band played gigs at CBGBs and Kenney’s Castaways in New York and at various clubs in Philadelphia and Boston. He played bass in his school’s jazz ensemble. And he was a poet: He self published a book of poetry under an alias, “Christopher Dedalus.”

He did not have a problem with drugs, alcohol or gambling. He was not depressed, at least not outwardly.

He seemed to have a passion for life which is why his suicide was so shocking. He sent a letter saying he had decided to end his life. He felt he wasn’t very talented or bright, that he had experienced everything there was to experience in life. The letter seemed to come from some stranger, as if someone had taken over my son.

But it was my son and he had meticulously plotted out how he would leave this world. He disappeared without a trace eight days before Christmas. Then, the day after Christmas came the news: his body had been found.

The book my son published was titled “Jesus in Disguise, highs and lows in the life of our savior.” In the preface he wrote, “all of us have within us the means to save ourselves from whatever demons torment us, to whatever salvation means to each of us, it is only a matter of discovering the means.” Somehow, he did not discover the means to save himself.

My friends tell me they don’t know what to say to me; that they know Fathers Day will be difficult; that Christmas will be difficult. But while I struggle every day I am determined to live, to smile, to put on my bow tie and help others, make people laugh, and run.

Every time I run the boardwalk on the Jersey Shore and see the sun emerging from the horizon, a bright beach ball rising over the ocean, I ask myself why? Why would my son not want to see another sunrise?

I don’t have the answer and I know I never will. So I turn to gratitude because to turn any other way would be to give in to despair. I am determined to not let my son’s suicide define me, to let it sap me of my will to live.

I am grateful for what I have. I have a beautiful daughter who loves me and whom I love in return. I am grateful for the friends I have, near and far, always ready to stand by me. I am grateful I can run.

As I train for the New York marathon I find a metaphor for life: it is a struggle, there will be days when I will fail, when I will hurt, when I am running alone. But life is, ultimately, beautiful and worth living.

If you struggle, if you hurt, share your struggle and your pain with a friend, a family member, or a professional. Do not be afraid to cry. Realize that you are not alone. You are running a marathon and it is going to hurt at times. I have copied links to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7 for free and confidential support - and the Crisis Text Line - text 741741 to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. 
Now it’s time for me to lace up my sneakers, go for a run, and watch the sunrise.


  1. Beautiful and emotional story Manolo, you gave us all a little window into your son. Thank you for sharing.... Chris Arnone


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