Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Adoption Leads to an Increased Risk of Suicide - Suicide Prevention Month

Adoption Leads to an Increased Risk of Suicide
Adoption Leads to an Increased Risk of Suicide
Adoption Leads to an Increased Risk of Suicide
Adoption Leads to an Increased Risk of Suicide

I write that four times because adoptees are four times more likely to attempt suicide than


You don't like reading it, do you? - I don't. 
It makes you uncomfortable, doesn't it? - It makes me uncomfortable. 
I hate it. 

I've intended to blog about Adoptee Suicide since I learned that September is Suicide Prevention Month, but it's taken me until now to actually do it because I don't like talking about it any more than you do. 

It's hard. 
It's dark. 
It's the worst thing that's ever happened to me. 

My adopted brother took his own life when he was 29. 

By the time someone gets to the point where they're desperate enough to end their life, they have often accumulated a lifetime of battle-scars along the way. My brother had issues in school, was put on medication, had problems getting along with other kids, was bullied and just couldn't fit in. As an adolescent he started drinking and began taking drugs. By the time he was an adult, he was a heroin addict, couldn't hold down jobs and was in and out of jail, rehab and mental hospitals. 

Adoption seemed the least of his problems. 

But adoption was the first challenge he faced. The one no one treated as a problem. It was the root of the weed of suffering that suffocating the life he might have otherwise had. 

Adoption leads to an increased risk of suicide. 

It's what no one wants to talk about, but everyone needs to hear. 


To understand more about adoptee suicide and what can be done, I've added some links:

  • Huffington Post had an excellent post about the adoptee suicide and prevention.
  • Light of Day Stories has more information and helps call out the need to get people talking about it.
  • John Brooks is an adoptive father who lost his daughter to suicide and wrote Girl Behind the Door as a way to explore the ways that adoption had contributed to her tragic death. 
  • This is just a short list. Please post more links and reading suggestions in the comment section!

If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.


Cathy Heslin is a reunited adult adoptee of closed domestic adoption in New Jersey. She met her birthmother when she was just 18 and moved out to Portland to live with her after graduating college. She has been in reunion with her birthmother for over 25 years, and with her birthfather for 15. She now has a complicated extended family that includes all sides.

She writes about adoption with a focus on long-term reunion. She has written a memoir in partnership with her birthmother called Kathleen-Cathleen where she and her birthmother write alternating chapters sharing their experience of reunion from both the perspective of the adoptee and the birthmother (not yet published). They also write parallel blogs on shared themes: Cathy's blog is reunioneyes.blogspot.com. Follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyHeslin.