Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Brother’s Death Inspires a Wise Latina to Give Hope to Others

Sunday, Sept. 5th starts the beginning of National Suicide Prevention week.  The Center for Disease Control reports that each year more than 34,000 people in the U.S. commit suicide.   Wise Latinas Linked member, Karen Crawford knows the pain left by suicide. She wanted to share her story in hopes of making us aware that someone may need our help today.

Yassy and Karen

When a raccoon walked into the backyard of Karen Crawford’s Los Angeles home; she and her brother, Yassy just stared at the animal. They were mesmerized.

In the moonlight, they could see the raccoon’s small eyes peering at them. Yassy was a city boy who had never seen a raccoon up close, so he was very curious about the creature

For the brother and sister the raccoon’s visit had a mystical feel to it.  The experience was something they’d bring up in conversation every time they’d get together.

Yassy happened to be in LA to do a video shoot for MTV3rs. He was an associate producer who lived in Queens, New York.  Karen was much older than Yassy, and living on two different coasts made it hard for them to keep up with each others lives.

So when her brother came to stay with her for a few days it was quality time for the both of them. Karen says “I admired his loyalty, strength, and awesome sense of humor.”

Karen also realized during his visit that her little brother had now become a man determined to follow his dreams. She adds “He was seemingly at a high point, he had a job that he loved, a girlfriend, a dog, and was planning to move out to Los Angeles.”

Then on March 14, 2009, Karen's father called her.   She dropped the phone and went into shock.  Yassy had killed himself with a gun in his own apartment.

The 23-year-old didn't leave a note.  The family later learned that he took his life after having an argument with his girlfriend.  Why they argued is still unknown.  Karen says “We never saw this coming. I don’t think anybody saw the signs.”

YassyBefore Karen flew back to New York for her brother’s funeral, she walked into an empty church, sat there for hours and cried.  She talked to her brother out loud. “I was sorry for all his pain and for feeling alone and all he went through” says Karen.

Every day Karen and her family struggle with Yassy’s suicide. Karen believes “It’s the ‘why’ that you never seem to grasp. It’s the ‘what if’ that haunts you.”

Now this graphic artist and owner of KC Tee's has turned her grief into educating the public about suicide. She designed a HOPE t-shirt to raise money for The organization SAVE or Suicide Awareness Voices of Education is a resource of information on suicideawareness and prevention. 

Karen also produced a video to bring attention to National Suicide Prevention week which runs from Sept. 5-Sept.10.

In educating herself, Karen has learned that suicide is high among 17-24 year olds. She believes educating high school and college students is important .  Karen says “Young adults need to be aware that help is out there.”

A few weeks after Yassy death, Karen was in her LA home one night, when her husband called her over to look at the backyard. The raccoon that months earlier had mesmerized Yassy---was back.

Yassy and Karen
It walked very slowly by the living room window, just staring at the couple, and then it disappeared. Karen overheard her husband say “Goodbye Yassy.”

Karen thought it was all so surreal. She adds “Maybe its wishful thinking, but I took it as a sign that Yassy was letting us know that he was at peace.”


  1. Karen, what a beautiful thing you are doing. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. This pain must be difficult. Thank you for using your talents to educate people! Blessings to you!

  2. Thank you so much Carla. I hope that one day, the stigma of this will dissipate and that more attention will be brought to this health crisis.
    Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words.

  3. We will forever miss Yassy. Thank you karen for acknowledging our brother who was filled with promise. Yes, what happened? What the hell happened? It's the unthinkable. Who saw it coming? Forever, I will be haunted with these unanswered questions. Why, just why, I just want to know why? Out of no where, he's gone. For good. It's FINAL- Too painful. Much too much pain for this heart to hold. My you rest in peace my dear hermanito. I love you!
    Liza Elliott-Ramirez
    Yassy's sister


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