From Project Director John Bauer:
On the morning of March 27, 2013, I received the phone call nobody ever wants to get. It was law enforcement notifying me that our 34-year-old daughter Megan was found dead in her car. Cause of death, Suicide.
The next three months were devastating beyond words. I felt like an imaginary person. Days were spent in a fog so thick I couldn’t remember the simplest things we take for granted every day. In desperation, I was prescribed anti-depressant medication that shut my existence down but made the next six months manageable.
Whether on the phone or on the street, most people just didn’t know what to say to me. How could they if they haven’t been through something so horrific. To develop a vocabulary for talking about suicide, we have to be able to talk about mental illness as well. Not in whispers or disrespectful laughter. We need a culture shift where we all take responsibility for addressing the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness. That burden should not be on me and my family alone, nor should it fall to other families who have come before or after us.
Finally, thanks to so many friends and strangers, I am now at a point in my life where I feel a sense of normalcy. Sad but true, sometimes it takes a personal tragedy to get us to do something around a cause and that’s where I find myself today and for the rest of my life.
In an effort to break the community silence, I put together an art exhibit entitled What’s Left, a multi-media exhibit that creates a proactive dialogue on suicide and mental illness to break the stigma that surrounds it. What’s Left features the work of over 40 established and emerging Minnesota artists. After its opening at MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota during September 2015 it will travel to every town in Minnesota, big or small, who will have us.