Above Ground Podcast #222, Conversations of Courage


You will never be the same following the suicide of someone you care about. Loss is part of the story, but it doesn’t have to tell the whole story. Erika Barber first lost her older sister, Andrea. Then, later on, Erika lost her dad, John. Through those losses came the ability to start having conversations of courage, and Erika’s courage to be comfortable talking about the uncomfortable leads to connection. 

Welcome to episode two hundred twenty-two of the Above Ground Podcast. We continue with our Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month episodes, as we have done since 2019, with our guest,  Erika Barber.  

 Erika Barber first lost her older sister, Andrea, to suicide when Erika was just fifteen. When Andrea died, Erika just wanted to be a teenager. She couldn’t address her pain like an adult; she wanted to hang with her friends. Forget the inevitable changes ahead for her family and the grief of losing your older sister. Forget that her life would be forever touched by suicide. She’d be the girl whose sister died by suicide.

Following the loss of Andrea, Erika’s mother dealt with her pain by drowning it in alcohol while her dad sought help. John went to the groups, took his medications as prescribed, and faced the loss of his daughter, Andrea. John lost his battle with depression eight years ago. Once again, Erika was facing a loss by suicide. But not just any loss. This was the loss of her dad in 2015. The loss of her dad was profound. 

Erika lived with mental health challenges herself. She was facing a family of mental health challenges, both figuratively and literally.  Erika did the work to find herself working through her loss courageously. 

Erika found the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2007 through an Out of the Darkness walk. Her ten-year Board of Directors term just ended. Erika wanted to be involved when she heard a radio ad calling her tribe together. People that would finally get her and understand. 

October 24, 2023, is the Chicagoland AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk in Chicago, Illinois. Erika will be in attendance; if you’re in the Chicagoland area, you should be, too, especially since you’re closer than you think to someone who died by suicide. 

Come to Saratoga Spa State Park on Sunday, September 24, 2023, at 9 a.m. for the Out of the Darkness Walk for R.I.T.A. and remember our loved ones. Stop by the Above Ground Podcast table and not-for-profits all over Nippertown. As well as a remembrance ceremony and activities to create tributes to celebrate their memory.  

Sunday, October 1, 2023, is the next Upstate Punk Rock Flea Market at Empire Live Albany. 11am-5pm.  It is also the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Schenectady Walk at Central Park. When they ask where you heard about these events, tell them the Above Ground Podcast guided you. Thanks for listening to episode two hundred twenty-two, and until next time, get well, be safe, and stay Above. 

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