You, Me, Empathy - Episode 71: Suicide Awareness and Faces Of Fortitude with Mariangela Abeo

Trigger Warning: Sexual assault, a suicide attempt, and death by suicide are discussed in this episode.

On Episode 71 of You, Me, Empathy, Mariangela Abeo and I explore cross-narrative suicide awareness, why talking about our mental health reduces suffering, and the stunning suicide advocacy project, Faces Of Fortitude.

Mariangela was raised in a very conservative Roman Catholic household with lots of rules and a controlling mother. She didn’t feel validated or heard growing up. She was bullied in school, and, at age 17, was sexually assaulted by two football players at her high school. What transpired next is truly horrifying, but sadly common. The principal told Mariangela that she was just “trying to get attention.”

Following this traumatic experience, Mariangela attempted suicide.

Mariangela and I explore the next chapters in her life, which includes dealing with narcissistic parents, creating boundaries for ourselves, taking the power away from the people who hurt us, raising her child in opposition to every parenting book on the market, and, the moment that led to the creation of Faces Of Fortitude:

Her brother died by suicide.

We talk about how there were possibly red flags early on, but how difficult they are to perceive. And just the brutal loss of someone you love, someone you thought you know fully. After her brother’s death, Mariangela threw herself into suicide advocacy, going to suicide awareness groups, and found a 20-something rookie therapist who blew her mind wide open. She learned that she had been processing grief for everybody else, but not herself.

So her way to process the grief of losing her brother to suicide was to post the very first portrait of herself online, which became the Faces Of Fortitude project—an amazing effort highlighting the faces of feely humans who’ve been impacted by suicide. Mariangela has turned a traumatic experience into something so remarkable, giving people a safe space to own their stories and talk about their mental health!

And guess what? I will be one of the Faces featured tomorrow, on Tuesday, April 16! Go check out @FacesOfFortitude on Instagram to see!

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