By Pata Suyemoto                                                              By Susie  Reece

This creative storytelling piece was co-authored for a co-presentation at the 2023 American Association of Suicidology.

When I was twelve,

my diagnosis was

major depression.

When I was nineteen,

my diagnosis was

major depression.                                                                                                                                      

At sixteen, I attempted


At fifteen, I attempted


At thirty-five my diagnosis included

dissociative disorder,

not otherwise specified.

At forty, I took

nineteen pills to combat

chronic and severe major


and complex PTSD.

At nineteen, I took

Four bottles of pills to combat

chronic and severe major


and complex PTSD

Perhaps, this is not surprising

since my aunt died by suicide,

my uncle faced serious depression, and

my mother had bipolar disorder.

Perhaps, this is not surprising

since my father died by suicide,

And took the life of my abusive

Stepmother when I was only ten.

One could say that genetics is

the cause of

our mental illness.

This is a lie.

                                             Here our stories diverge

                                             But for a bit,

                                             Yet deception remains interwoven.

In 1942, my dad and his family were

imprisoned in a camp

in Topaz Utah. 

Historical Trauma and racism

silenced him.

He became


                                                           In 1910, Korea was invaded,

                                                                Our culture stripped from us

                                                               Our way of life supplanted.

                                                                           My family was filled with angst and

Anxiety and Fear from the other    Our near erasure made us withdraw

We can only wonder,

what impact

this has on us.

And although I grew up solidly

middle class, I also grew up in

a white community where I was taunted

and called chink and soy sauce.

                                                                                             My childhood was disjointed

                                                                                             Punctuated by pain that split

                                                                                             My life across spaces and places

                                                                                             And people who never quite

accepted me as me

I was bullied in junior high.

My mom was the

crazy divorced lady.

My sister’s friend was forbidden from

coming to our house.

                                                                                         I was bullied by family whose skin    

Didn’t tan quite like mine

I was the daughter of a monstrous ghost

A reminder of horror and shame      

My mother also told me not to stand

with my legs apart.

“It’s not lady-like,”

she said.

My grandmother said the same        

But closing my legs didn’t stop

my cousin from

molesting me at six.

Nor did it stop me from suffering

Sexual harassment, assault, and

Being blamed by way of sexual stereotypes

Or at sixteen, a supervisor from

groping me.

Not to mention the onslaught of

catcalls and innuendos.

                                                                                             I stood at the bar waiting for a


When asked by a stranger about

my body

The shock of what he said stays with me

Til this day                              

A “normal” womanhood,

one might say.

This too is a lie.

                                                                                             Our history, always against us

The media weaponizing race and


To make us villainous temptresses

Who always asked for it                                

I grew to hate myself.

What was there to love?

After all, I was ridiculed for

my race and attacked for

my gender.

                                                                                             I scoured my skin as a child

                                                                                             Trying to scrub away the color

                                                                                             Hoping the soap and scalding


                                                                                             Could cleanse my pain away

When I came out as

bisexual, that too

was cause for pain.

                                                                                             Being sexualized and demonized

Has put my life in danger

It taught me not to trust the truth    

In high school, I hid this

from my friends and my family.

I hid this

from the therapists in

the hospital they put me in.

To speak of my sexuality

Meant to be the object of hatred

Or the recipient of violence

No one ever said,

perhaps your depression and

PTSD are normal

reactions to racism, sexism,

homophobia, and hatred.


you are not sick.


your despair is not an illness.


This is our truth.


We are not alone.                                                                                                                       


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