"It's lonely, heartbreaking, unbelievably sad, there are no words in the dictionary for it," says Geena Ryan about losing her son. Wes Ryan was a sports fanatic turned local radio personality in the Kanawha Valley. He had spent most of his life in and out of hospitals due to a complicated illness, but his family never thought that it would push him to take his own life.
"He had so many friends, none of them know this was going on inside of him. I don't even think he knew that it was happening," says Geena. Unlike other diseases, mental illness isn't something you can see in someone's eyes or hear in their voice, it often goes unnoticed.
In most cases, those struggling with deep internal issues don't seek help because of the social stigma associated with mental illness. We spoke with a local therapist about the message she wants to send to those considering suicide.
"It's like throwing a pebble into a pond and your suicide will ripple out over those who you love and who love you. You don't know who can survive your suicide and who can't," says Lynn Eldrige, therapist with Process Strategies.
The Ryan family is a perfect example of how one suicide can touch the lives of many. While they are still learning how to live without their son, they are working on ways to help other families suffering through the same thing.
"I have a mission now. My mission is to help other people going through this," says Geena Ryan. She doesn't try to hide her son's story, she shares it with as many people possible.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or considering suicide please contact one of the groups below.
You can reach the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit www.messagesforhope.com to talk with counselors here in Charleston, West Virginia.