Nasha Clark still remembers the day she found out her brother Marcus took his life as though it just happened. The memory is so graphic for her, she can recount the aromas of the heartbreaking moments that followed.
“I can still smell and feel the day,” she said. “I know it may sound weird, but that day is so vivid to me. It felt like a dream. I was trying to find an out and couldn’t. That’s the best way I can describe it.”
In 2016, her 24-year-old brother committed suicide. It was a complete shock to her family. Left behind to try and make sense of everything, the entertainment publicist says the guilt of not being aware of the fact that her brother was struggling to such a great degree almost overwhelmed her grieving process. It took seeking out professional counseling to help her maintain her mental health during such a hard time. Not only that, but talking through things really helped her give herself some grace.
“I’ve experienced so much guilt, confusion, anger, peace. I mean it depends on the day,” she said. “I think I’m at peace and I’m really working on myself and maintaining my own mental health, which has been a struggle as of late. I just didn’t know how to go on without him. It was very difficult for me.”
“I felt guilty I had no idea he was going through something of this magnitude alone,” she added. “It’ll always be a struggle, but I’ve started therapy to help me cope.”
Many of us have wrestled with our mental health during the extremely isolating period of quarantining through a seemingly never-ending pandemic. But for Clark, and those who’ve lost a loved one to suicide, they’re doubly impacted in these times. International Survivors of Suicide Day is on November 21, and many will remember the loved ones they lost, as well as their journey to obtain a sense of peace. Clark was able to find her own peace by not being afraid to share what she was going through with the right people. In turn, others were comfortable enough to open up to her about their own losses and battles.
“Therapy and talking about my feelings openly [helped],” she said. “Many people have confessed to me their own struggles. I just wished this was something that wasn’t so taboo in the Black community.”
Looking to make a difference, she is in the process of creating a nonprofit to support those battling anxiety and depression, but also those who’ve lost a family member to suicide and can’t seem to move past the guilt. Her hope is to take away the stigma of mental illness within the Black community and offer resources to those impacted by it. As people still grapple with the death of writer Jas “JasFly” Waters, the suicide attempt of Tamar Braxton, and as the attempts of people, including children, have increased during the pandemic, it’s very much needed.
“So many. Our conversations when he was deployed and I would wake up early to communicate with him. We’d have the best and some of my favorite heart-to-hearts,” she said. “Our bond was so natural. We had each other’s backs. He was one of my best friends. I miss him every day.”