Suicide survivor: “One more suicide is one too many.”

Published 26 Apr 2023 • By Polina Kochetkova

Heather has been battling suicidal thoughts for 41 years. Today, she talks about her relationship with God, the struggles she goes through daily and her motivation in life. Heather is a founder of a company called Wondherful, which was created with the desire to help others in their battle against suicide.

Discover her story!

Suicide survivor: “One more suicide is one too many.”

Hello Heather, 

First of all, could you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Heather Michelle Funk Palacios. I’m married to Raul Palacios and we have two boys, DJ, Sophomore college; Andy senior in high school. Both are single. I have 3 other kids born with 4 legs each: Fozzy, Louis and Yogi. My goldendoodle tribe. I love being outside with the doodles, doing puzzles, cardio, and I am Dateline’s biggest fan.

You are a suicide survivor. Do you know how suicidal ideas manifested themselves into your life?

My 41 years of suicidal battles have manifested both chemically and circumstantially. The important takeaway here is that I lean in to the experts to make these determinations and do NOT self-prescribe or presume with online research. I encounter/help more those who struggle with suicidal thoughts because of something they are going through (ie, circumstantial) than something chemical. For me, the suicidal battles manifesting through circumstance have changed depending on my age, geographic location, and specifics of circumstance. The suicidal battles manifesting through chemistry have been explained to me by brain-experts and through the advancement of neuroscience and brain-imaging. The way I understand it, my brain doesn’t fire on all cylinders like my husband’s; and my brain can misfire, unlike my husband’s!

At what point did you become aware of having suicidal thoughts? What was that time period like for you?

In 1981 on 254 South College Drive in Bowling Green, Ohio. I was 8 years old. I was in a tough spot at home and at school with nowhere to go for either and no way out for either. Suicide seems like my only hope/answer.

What impact have suicidal tendencies had on your personal and professional life?

It’s not your average temptation or weakness, especially for a pastor’s wife. So personally, as an adult, it’s been a lonely battle. In my professional life, there’s been seasons, people and positions where it wasn’t openly discussed or WAS hotly contested. But look, I’m trying to stay alive! So I don’t use my time or energy on that stuff.

Do you talk about your suicide attempts to those around you? What do other people say about it? Do they understand you?

Always. It’s been a lifelong battle, it’s all I know. But I’m still here! So I think it’s important to talk about wanting to kill myself as a child, teen, college kid, young career person, wife, mom, and now, middle-aged person. Overall, people are curious and kind. No one understands me, but I understand me and God understands me. And it’s gotten me this far!

Are you being followed by a psychologist or psychiatrist? Does this follow-up help you to move forward, to get better?

Currently I am under the care of both. Blindsight circumstances, like the 2020 pandemic, and my little brother suddenly dying, have warranted regular care from both. But this is not always the case. I am always thankful for the seasons where there aren’t blindsight circumstances and I do not have to take extra cautions and be under extra care. Different bouts of suicidal activity have warranted different sources of treatment. The important thing is:

1) Tell someone

2) Don’t give up on getting treatment

You speak of God’s importance in your life. Would you say that religion has changed you? In what way?

When I was locked in a psych ward “cell” by myself after a suicide attempt, for my protection and others, they removed everyone and everything. I had two options that night: talk to my demons or talk to my God. I chose the latter. And learned that when He was all I had left, I had everything I needed.

You are a founder of a platform called Wondherful. Tell us about it? What is the purpose of the platform?

Wondherful is an organization I founded with a singular focus: one more suicide is one too many. I chase this in three ways:

  • Eclectic speaking circuit: in corporations, prisons, law enforcement, churches, schools, halfway houses, psychiatric hospitals, colleges, charity events.
  • Dissemination of free LifeBoxes to anyone, anywhere going through anything, so they won’t give up.
  • Educational and encouraging online presence through social media and the Wondherful website.

What is your current state of mind?

Currently, I have a broken heart. The last 5 months have been one of my biggest tests to not give up, after watching my little brother die from a fentanyl overdose, and not being able to save him. But I’m following my own advice, practicing what I preach, and taking it one hour at a time. It’s hard but not impossible. The Bible tells me so!

What are your plans for the future?

To help anyone, anywhere, going through anything, to not give up. Suicide is everywhere, but so is hope and so is life. I just want to go where God sends me and be a conduit for that.

What advice would you give to Carenity members who have tried to commit suicide or were thinking about doing so?

Well, for that, I need to have my jigsaw puzzle box. Hopefully, I’ll get an opportunity to spend time with Carentiy members, and answer this with my puzzle pieces.

Any last words?

Every night, I tell myself: “If you wake up breathing that’s your proof to keep going.” Every day, I tell myself: “One hour at a time gives you 15 victories in a day."

 A big thank you to Heather for this interview! 

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Take care of yourself!  

avatar Polina Kochetkova

Author: Polina Kochetkova, Health Writer

Polina is a content creator at Carenity, specialised in health writing. Polina is pursuing her bachelors in fashion marketing from IFA Paris University and in her spare time loves to play tennis and listen to music.

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