36 - The Impact of Syra’s Suicide on the Abiador Family Part 1 : An Interview With Her Parents, Richard and Joy

In today’s podcast I interview Joy and Richard Abiador, whose 18-year-old daughter, Syra, died by suicide approximately three years ago. Joy and Richard share how Syra’s suicide impacted their family, differences in how they grieve, and how they have learned to live with so many unanswered questions. They also discuss their decision to be public with family and friends regarding Syra’s decision to end her life and how they have coped with their traumatic grief.

Key Points:

Suicide is currently the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2021 there was an average of 132 suicide deaths per day and 48,123 total deaths. The highest rate of suicides is by middle age white men, but suicide rates among young adults are increasing and suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young adults ages 15-24. According to the national alliance on mental illness, almost 20% of high school students have seriously contemplated suicide.

According to Dr. Carl Fleisher, who specializes in adolescent and child psychiatry, young people are vulnerable to suicide because of where they stand socially and developmentally. Developmentally, their pre-frontal cortex is not fully formed making them more impulsive and unable to weigh risks and consequences in the same manner as adults. Dr. Fleisher also states they are not as socially connected in society because they have not had a chance to engage in committed relationships, have children or establish themselves compared to older generations.

A death by suicide is sudden but not always unexpected, especially if there have been previous suicide attempts, a family history of suicide, or other strong suicide risk factors. According to Syra’s family, her death was completely unexpected and the night they found her was filled with chaos, shock, and feelings of helplessness when they found their daughter.

Joy talks about her struggles, looking for a note from her daughter or anything that would help her comprehend “the why”. She acknowledged that she has now come to a place where she has accepted that she will never know or understand Syra’s decision. Richard, on the other hand, consulted with people he trusted for guidance and advice, and developed a narrative that provided him with answers he could live with.

Joy and Richard share differences in how they grieve and how they still support one another. Men and women grieve differently, and partners can grieve both separately and together within a marital unit or committed relationship. Research has shown that men tend to be more task or action oriented in their grief whereas women are more emotional, intuitive, or feeling oriented in their grieving style.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and throughout the month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. For more information, please visit the website for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If you or someone you love is feeling suicidal or in need of crisis support - text or call Lifeline 24/7 at 988 to speak with a counselor

Although today’s podcast focused on the pain associated with Syra’s suicide, Joy and Richard talk about their continued loved for Syra. They continue to express this love by spending time with their family and sharing stories, honoring Syra’s dedication to the environment and tending to their sunflower garden. Syra will remain forever alive and part of their family.

If you would like to connect with Joy and Richard, please join our Facebook group, Talking About the Podcast Untethered with Dr. Levin.

My next podcast is on September 27th and will be a follow up to this interview where I interview Joy and Richard’s daughters, Leia and Teya, to learn about their experiences after Syra's suicide.


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