5 Things I Learned After I Lost a Friend to Suicide

After my friend took her own life, I learned some lessons I wish I’d never had to—but they’re still important.

Editor’s note:

Naomi Knoles passed away from suicide on August 24, 2015. After the birth of her daughter, Anna, Knoles suffered from postpartum depression and psychosis. Before her death, she told her story in the must-see documentary, When the Bough Breaks, of how she tried to take her own life and failed. She describes how upon waking and realizing she was still alive, she then took her daughter’s life because she never wanted her daughter to feel the kind of terrible emotional pain she was in and in her psychosis she believed it was best for her daughter to die. Despite that fact that Knoles was suffering from postpartum psychosis, she was sentenced to 10 years in an Arizona prison for Anna’s death. Upon her release in 2013, she became involved with Postpartum Support International in an effort to save other mothers and babies. She says she visited her daughter’s grave and told her that her death would not be in vain. 

Tragically, Naomi continued to battle depression even after her release from prison, and took her own life. This is an example of  how truly exhausting the fight against depression can be. Lindsay Lipton Gerszt, herself a postpartum depression survivior who fights and ongoing battle, and one of the producers of When the Bough Breaks, tells of her relationship with Knoles and what she learned when she lost her. 

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Photo: Lindsay Gerszt (left) and Naomi Knoles. Courtesy Lindsay Gerszt

Two years ago I lost my dear friend, Naomi Knoles, from suicide. I met Naomi when we interviewed her for “When The Bough Breaks,” a documentary about postpartum depression. Naomi suffered from postpartum psychosis and ultimately took her daughter’s life. After spending 10 years in prison for her crime, she also took her own life. Her story is a tragic one and changed my life forever. This is what I learned after Naomi lost her battle with depression:

  • Do not blame yourself. There was nothing YOU did that would have caused someone to harm themselves.
  • Never judge anyone. We all have our demons, just some are more visible than others.
  • Always be kind. You never know when someone needs encouraging words, an ear to be heard or even just a smile from you.
  • Show support to their family and friends. They need it and not just right after the tragedy.
  • Share their story! We have to keep their memory alive. Others WILL learn from their struggles and pain. Sharing their story may save someone’s life.

Everyone has a story to tell and a story worth sharing!

***A shorter version of this article originally appeared at 30seconds.com.

Lindsay Gerszt
Lindsay Lipton Gerszt is a film producer and former music industry professional in California. In 2007, she stepped back from the music industry to begin her family. It was at this stage in her life that she came face to face with postpartum depression. She has now committed herself to raising awareness for PPD, it's many faces and the path to a healthy life and family. Her commitment to PPD has included working on the important documentary...When The Bough Breaks-a documentary about postpartum depression. This work has included fundraising, producing and telling her story, along with helping other women tell their story. This work has become her passion.

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