You Are Not Alone: A Story
A story by Jade Chamness, Founder and CEO of Break Through the Static
It’s so hard to sleep. It’s so overwhelming and loud and I feel so alone. In the chaos I feel so isolated. Scared. Terrified.
I used to lay my head on my pillow and all I could hear was this white noise. This static. Constant buzzing in my ears; confusion and chaos running through my veins. I just wanted to quiet it all. I wanted it to stop. I wanted peace.
This is how I felt after I lost my dad to suicide. I didn’t know why he had to leave. I wanted him to come back. I couldn’t bear to live without him. Frozen in time, I didn’t want to live another day. How could I go on? My friends would ask: “Why aren’t you better? Why haven’t you healed and ‘gotten over it’? Why are things still so overwhelming and confusing for you?” I was asked these questions so many times, but I felt like no one understood my pain, my emotions; including me.
I now know there are a lot of people who have experienced this static - these feelings of overwhelm and chaos. I didn’t know that at the time when my Dad died. I didn’t know there were others who had cried through boxes of Kleenex, worn out their journals, stained their pillows with mascara, and curled up into the fetal position in the corner of their beds – just to feel safe again.
Many of us at Break Through the Static have lived it. We have starved, drank, cut, abused and avoided. We have hurt the people we love over and over again. All trying to drown out what feels like an insurmountable wall of pain. We don’t know exactly what this static feels like for you, but we too have ached and yearned for someone we love who is now gone.
You are not alone.
We know the best way to get through the static is to be around others who understand, who have lived with the static. That’s where we come in.
Join Break Through the Static. It will be a place where you can feel exactly how you want to feel. A place where people understand that sometimes you’re totally fine and other times your life is collapsing and it feels like you have no control. A place where you’re around other teens who are living with the same static. A place where you can start to break through that static. A place you can start to heal.
Come and join us. Break Through the Static is made for people like us. Let’s be better together.
With immense hope,
Why do you support teenagers who’ve lost a loved one to suicide?
The short answer is, there’s a huge need.
Every 18 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide.
Each suicide leaves mothers, brothers, best friends, coworkers and neighbors behind who are faced with the reality of tragically and often suddenly losing a loved one. There are roughly eight million suicide survivors in the United States. While they are strong in number, they are weak in institutional support.
Break Through the Static exists to support these individuals as they live with suicide. We will care for grieving teenagers and help increase their resiliency so they can healthily and confidently face life’s inevitable ups and downs.
Why are you based in San Francsico?
In our home, the San Francisco Bay Area, suicide feels ever present. San Francisco County has the country’s highest teen suicide rate at 9.0 suicides per every 100,000 youth. And the Golden Gate Bridge has seen more than 1,200 suicides since it opened in 1937, the most of any location in the world.
In the United States, there are no comprehensive direct service organizations exclusively supporting teens affected by suicide.
How’d Break Through the Static start?
Break Through the Static is the vision of Jade Chamness, Founder and CEO. Jade’s father died by suicide when she was 17 years old. While emerging from this life-altering event, Jade turned an analytical eye toward the services available to teens affected by suicide. In her experience everyone from family to professionals did not fully understand the realities of teens and suicide. She learned the hard way that teens need more support than is currently offered. Jade stated Static in response to this deficit in 2009.
We will help.
We must act to reach out to the teens affected by suicide and provide them with a safe place to go where they can face their pain, struggle, grieve and learn how to deal with their intense emotions, and be surrounded by others who get it.
We know life is not always easy, but it’s a whole lot easier when you have people in your life who listen and support you. This is our vision.
Break Through the Static will transform families, schools and communities by exclusively supporting teenagers affected by suicide.
It is our hope that through Break Through the Static programs:
- Teenagers will connect to a supportive community and we will facilitate continued community
- Teenagers will be better able to identify their feelings and will learn how to cope with their feelings positively
- Teenagers will have a language to communicate about the suicide, grief and how to relate to others
Progress to Date:
- Hosted booths and presented at numerous suicide prevention events
- Created relationships with 25 Bay Area high schools, 30 youth-serving organizations, 40 mental health professionals and 150 Bay Area families
- Recruited a Board of Directors and Mental Health Board that include: Michelle Linn-Gust, PhD, President-Elect of the American Association of Suicidology; Dr. Ann Mitchell, RN, Pittsburgh Chapter President of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; Derek Canty, nationally-recognized youth facilitator and Founder/CEO of Winning Edge