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      If you or someone you know has experienced thoughts of suicide, made a suicide attempt, or lost someone to suicide, we provide healing during and through your crisis.

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  • Client Info
  • Donate
  • Get Help Now
    • Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

      If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text:

      9-8-8
      (24/7, free & confidential)

      Or chat with a crisis counselor:
      Chat Now

      Peer-to-peer support for teens
      (Teen Line)
      800-852-8336
      6pm-10pm PST

    • Get Services

      For mental health or substance use services, call intake:

      LA County:
      888-807-7250

      Mon-Fri 8:30am-5:00pm

    • Crisis Counseling

      If you or someone you know has experienced thoughts of suicide, made a suicide attempt, or lost someone to suicide, we provide healing during and through your crisis.

      Get Help Today

The Starfish Story

It was Wednesday morning, March 29th, 2017, I got a phone call I wish I never got and won’t soon forget. It was Wednesday morning, March 29th, 2017, that my brother, Jean-Paul Lewis ended his life.

I wanna tell you that the Survivors After Suicide support group I went to was what made the difference in my life and helped me through this, but it wasn’t.

I wanna tell you it was the intensive individual therapy I had the first few years after his death, but it wasn’t that either.


It wasn’t my friends, or my family, or all the people I met along the way, who held me up when I couldn’t stand, hugged me tight when I couldn’t stop crying, and kept the candle burning so I could find my way.

It wasn’t the fact that I talked about his death when I could barely get the words out and people told me not to, and I continued to talk about it until I could, and people wanted to hear it.

And it’s not the fact that I shared favorite memories I had with him, expressed those memories in my paintings, and continue to carry on traditions to keep those memories alive.

It wasn’t any of that.

It was ALL of that. It ALL made a difference.

There’s this short story called The Starfish Story, or maybe it’s a poem adapted from a story. I can’t remember, and it doesn’t really matter anyway. It’s the story itself that matters. There’s this little girl on a beach, and she’s picking up starfish and gently tossing them back into the ocean trying to save them, so they don’t die. And when she is told she is wasting her time. There are too many miles of beach and too many starfish for her to make any difference, she responds by picking up another starfish and throwing it into the ocean, and she replies, “I made a difference to that one.”

I’ve read this story countless times, and its meaning has changed for me just as many. I believe, now, that I was the starfish, and I was surrounded by ‘little girls’ tossing me back into the ocean over and over and over again every time the waves threw me onto the shore. In the ocean were my tears, my pain, my questions, my guilt, my anger, and my grief that I didn’t want to face. But it was also in there, and through that, I found laughter, joy, acceptance, forgiveness, and love. I am grateful to all those little girls who helped me brave the storm and face that ocean. I needed ALL of them. I needed ALL of it. It’s what made a difference to me.

And now, maybe I get to be the little girl, or one of them, and maybe, just maybe, you’re the starfish I can make a difference for.

-Jessica Lewis

This personal story was written in memory of my brother, Jean-Paul Lewis. May it somehow make a difference for someone the way Survivors After Suicide has made a difference for me.

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