Episode 129: Phillip Tyler, Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention
On this episode, Karen speaks with Phillip Tyler; Phillip lost his son Devon to suicide in November of 2017 at the age of 22. Phillip is here to share his son’s story and how he turned his heartbreak into healing as a mental health advocate and suicide prevention educator.
Phillip has held the following positions and maintained several training instructor licenses, including: Crime Prevention and Education Officer (Gonzaga University), Air Force Veteran, Former Corrections Lieutenant, Former President of Spokane NAACP. CPTED specialist. Certified Comfort trainer, Certified Soul Shop Movement trainer, AFSP-WA Board of Directors, AAS member, and Community Representative with WSP Independent Investigative Team. Phillip is a loss survivor and passionate suicide prevention advocate.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Books: After Suicide Loss - Coping with your grief, Jack Jordan, Ph.D. and Emotionally Naked, AnneMoss Rogers
Intro Voices 00:04
Where do I go? The only happened was, I was singled out. The phone calls began about one month ago. What is hazing? Something happened to me when I was younger? I'm worried about my safety. He said he was sorry, can someone help me? Where can I get help? Can someone help me?
Karen Ortman 00:30
This is you matter, a podcast for the NYU community developed by the Department of campus safety. Hi, everyone, and welcome back to you matter, a podcast created to teach, inspire and motivate members of the NYU community who have been victimized in some form or fashion, and to identify resources both on and off campus that can help. I'm your host Karen Ortman, Associate Vice President of campus safety operations at the Department of campus safety, and a retired law enforcement professional. Today I welcome Phillip Tyler. Phillip lost his son, Devon, to suicide in November of 2017, at the age of 22. Phillip is here to share his son's story and how he turned his heartbreak into healing as a mental health advocate and suicide prevention educator. Welcome to you matter.
Phillip Tyler 01:20
Well, good morning. Good afternoon, where you're at. And thank you for for having me today. I've been a fan that you matter podcast, in fact, at our university here, where I'm at Gonzaga, we've modeled what we've done or are trying to do with our podcast, based on your successful podcast. Well, that's Thank you. Yeah, yeah, flattery is right is the greatest form, right.
Karen Ortman 01:44
I'm awesome. Thank you.
Phillip Tyler 01:45
Yeah. And I'm honored to be here today to really talk about an issue that most of us aren't willing to talk about. And I think the more we keep it top of mind and top of our conversation, I think the more change we can have in our society.
Karen Ortman 01:59
Let's start by talking about Devon. Tell me about Devon as he was in life.
Phillip Tyler 02:06
Well, Devon, my oldest son was a wonderful human being he was kind. He was wise beyond his years, he passed at 22 years old. But he had a wisdom and a presence that far exceeded is young, 22 years in life. He was known for his smile, connecting and making others feel inclusive. He was artistic. He drew and designed his own tattoos, much to his father's chagrin on occasion, got many of them. He was a motorcycle enthusiast. And as a matter of fact, as a parent, I thought that that would be his demise. He was one of those young men that had a GoPro on multiple points on his motorcycle. And he would often sent his father the videos of him doing wheelies and stuff. No, you know, I could domitor And, and on those occasions where my traffic enforcement team in the city would call me and say, Phil, you know, I had to stop driving the other day. But he was he was he was a kind, kind, kind young man. He was a sneaker head. If you're familiar with it, he owned every pair of Air Force ones you can imagine. That was his passion.
Karen Ortman 03:29
Yeah, wonderful. So tell me about Devon, and your reference to this wisdom and presents that he had as a young person at 22.
Phillip Tyler 03:41
Yeah, so the one of the examples I would give Karen is, you know, a week before he passed, he was traveling through the downtown of our cities corridor. And he texted me and said, Hey, Dad, I was coming home, I had a plate full of food that I was going to smash when I got home. But I saw a what appeared to be a homeless gentleman on the side of the road. And as he stopped at the stoplight, he rolled down his window and said, hey, you know, are you hungry? And the gentleman said, yeah, and he said, you know, here, I was gonna have this at home. But I gave it to you. And what he said in that text after that Garrett was, if I had all the money in the world, I would give it to people like this and solve this homeless problem. But he said, even that wouldn't change because there's not enough people who would do the same thing. And for a 22 year old man to have that insight is powerful.
Karen Ortman 04:35
He sounds like a very empathetic and compassionate person.
Phillip Tyler 04:40
I would say yes, to that caring, and it's counter to how he was raised. And I say that as a father, who raised two boys, who was raised by a military father was raised by his military father. And what we taught all of our children was to wear the mask. And even though I taught him this, which I know now is nonsense, it created in him this misconstrued masculinity, where he had to hide and suppress his emotions, he still was able to go beyond that, and have that empathy.
Karen Ortman 05:15
So you say, wear the mask? What do you mean by that?
Phillip Tyler 05:19
Well, for men, and particularly black men, we have been taught all of our lives from our fathers and their fathers fathers, that when we leave the front door of our homes, we have to put the mask on that is smiling in appearance, not intimidating to the general populace. So then we can exist in spaces where we are not making others uncomfortable, yet, we are suppressing our own comfort. In doing so it creates this imposter syndrome, where you never really see who we truly are here. And like, for me, my mask hides my imposter syndrome, my continual pain, my, what I call an ambivert. Personality, right? I can be in spaces like today with you. I can be on TEDx platforms that can be talking to audiences, but I also prefer my own solitude from time to time, but yeah, I hide that, and no one would be aware of those things.
Karen Ortman 06:13
Did there come a time when you noticed changes in Devon's personality up to the age of 20, to the time of his untimely passing? And if so, at what point did you recognize the changes? And what were they?
Phillip Tyler 06:31
So the answer, the short answer to that question is no. But the extended answer after doing my own journey, through recognition, I remember the weeks leading up to his passing, he was talking about his struggles in his relationship. And I remember it because we'd have this pattern, he would come to my house on occasion, we'd sit on the front porch, we'd have a dozen chocolate chip cookies from McDonald's, and we just talk about life. What happened this week, what's happening on the weekend, what was happening in the future. And he would often talk about his struggles with his relationship. And I would say, you know, you're a young man, like me, a father did, you're handsome young man, your whole world is in front of you don't get so caught up in this present relationship, which was my way of suppressing or minimizing his emotion I didn't know at the time. And I can't say that my morals of missed opportunities might could have should have would have have led me to believe that was the some cause of his death, because I don't believe there's any single factor with suicide. But I think that was him reaching out to me to say, I'm struggling. And I didn't have the intelligence. I was ignorant, because of the mask I had been wearing. And foisted upon him to be able to ask those deeper questions. I did whatever your male parents father would do. Your man, you'll be better. Things are going to be good down the road. But he shared with you. Yes. Again, that's why I said he was well beyond his years, even though I had malformed deform kind of formed him into this person who was opposed to, you know, as a young black male, particularly suppress his emotions, he's negative coping skills, as I know they are today. But he was still able to get those out.
Karen Ortman 08:16
Phillip Tyler 08:16
But I didn't notice it. But what I'd say to that question, again, Karen is, but then that day prior to his loss, he stopped buying same premise that dozen a dozen chocolate chip cookies, to have our conversations, but I was away from the house. I was down at City Hall testifying on an ordinance. And he texted me a message Hey, Dad, stop by to chop it up with you left them talking to cookies on the porch. I know you're busy man. I just want to tell you, I love you. And I said, Jason, on Dallas City Hall. I love you too. That would be our last text exchange. But what I found out again, in this grief process was he had similar messages to his siblings and other family members. And they were always telling them that he wanted them to know that he loved him. So now as we're connecting the dots there after it took us an hour, if you can call it closure, he was letting us know that He loved us.
Karen Ortman 09:15
Were those messages in proximity to his passing? Yes, day prior. And prior to that day, which was prior to the day of his passing, he did not typically leave such messages.
Phillip Tyler 09:29
No he was always a kind so like that he was the one family member that would never forget a birthday always have a Christmas card always do these things. But that's why we didn't take it as a sign of anything unusual. But again, you know, when you collect those dots, and then try to connect them to us they became clear, right because we are the family yeah, you know, it may not mean something to others, but we thought
Karen Ortman 09:54
Those you know him the the most found meaning in in those elections, yeah, I understand that. Tell me about the day in November 2017, when your life changed forever.
Phillip Tyler 10:11
Yeah, the fifth anniversary was yesterday. And I remember getting a text message from our longtime neighbor. He said, "Hey, there's a lot of activity going on in your house, he and his friends, were renting my first home". And I was about five minutes away to the south. And Cindy asked, "you know, what's going on"? And I said, "you know, I don't know, I'll check". And so was it was the parent, do I text my son? That wasn't technology? Right? No response. What is the parents do when they don't get response? They text again with punctuation, right, call me exclamation point, no response, then I call and the phone goes to voicemail, which was unusual. So I jumped my car, and I drive over and you're making that you're traversing that distance. And as a parent, something tells you something's wrong. And as I approached the scene, and I've approached many things like this before, you know, in my times, I knew at that point, and as I got out of my vehicle,
Karen Ortman 11:08
You knew what at that point?
Phillip Tyler 11:10
I knew something was serious. Multiple sheriff's, deputies, vehicles, and ambulance, multiple firefighting apparatus, paramedic, fire, etc. And then on the lawn, I saw our police captain, I saw our fire chief, I saw whom I knew to be the sheriff's chaplain. And as I stepped out of that vehicle, they all approached me and just hugged me. And I have to tell you, Karen, I, I love them. And for a person who, you know, at 50 years old, wore this mask of Never Letting someone see me be weak. Yeah. I cried. And they cried, and we hugged, and then I became angry, not because of the act, but because I could not prevent the act. Because I had this mentality that I had been through suicidal death. I had performed CPR on people for 30 minutes, I knew everything I knew, I thought I knew about suicide. And I also had this ignorance, Karen, that I had to learn it the two years old, my son is too strong to do this. This is not what a strong person does. This is what weak people do. All of this socialized stigmatize nonsense. Yeah. I had to fight through. And then I had to fight through my own parental anger of not really recognizing the true aspect of this. What I mean by that is, I needed to see the body, I thought, in order to make it true. And no one was going to stop me. And the only reason that I didn't, and I thank the Lord that I didn't, was because my wife had the wherewithal to say, Hey, you guys aren't going to be able to stop Phil, if he's determined to do this. You need to call this year, this year of brokerage account, it was kind of like my surrogate father, my father had passed years prior to this. But I'd known this gentleman for for 20 something years. And they called him and they got on the line, they were able to give the phone to me and he said, Phil, he said, I love you. And I said, I'd love you too, share. He says Do you trust me? I said, Yes, sir. I do trust. And he said, I've been doing this for 30 years. And I can tell you, man to man, that I've talked with many parents in these situations, and this is the last image you want love your child, please, for me, and for your sake, don't go see the body. And I did. And it was the best decision I've ever made.
Karen Ortman 13:49
Are you in law enforcement?
Phillip Tyler 13:51
I am now a crime prevention education officer with Gonzaga University. Prior to that, I worked 16 years with the Spokane Sheriff's Department in jail division as a lieutenant in charge of geo operations. And prior to that, eight years in the United States Air Force as a law enforcement specialist.
Karen Ortman 14:04
So it seemed like a relevant question to ask because you seem to know a lot about who your law enforcement community is or was at that time. Yes, ma'am. So thank you for for sharing that. So you didn't go see your son's body? Tell me what happened. After learning of your son's passing. You know, you're you're being embraced by the law enforcement community, which is
Phillip Tyler 14:35
we had to live that. And I embodied that for years.
Karen Ortman 14:40
I remember hearing similar messages for years younger as well.
Phillip Tyler 14:44
Yeah. And so I had to then be forced to move beyond that there was this post traumatic growth that occurred rather quickly. Where I said Something's not matching up here. Why would this intelligent, kind young man, take his life? What did I do wrong as a parent, if anything? And so I started digging into the research, I started being connected to advocacy groups, suicide, loss of mental health, et cetera. And I realized that my issues that I had ran from for so many years, right, believing that this was a sign of weakness, that this was selfish, that this was something that black folks didn't do. Karen. Yeah, that's how I was raised. Right. I had to realize that counseling might be important. I was raised at Blackbaud and dude, counseling, and all of these these tropes, the these misguided bits of information, I had to unlearn. When I said earlier that we are all formed beings were either malformed, deform, conformed or transformed. That's what I was. I was malformed because of these these socialized tropes that were foisted upon me, my parents and their parents, I was I was deformed, because then I wore the mask on a daily basis to hide these things. I was conformed because the military and law enforcement corrections in general, didn't allow us to be we can share our emotions. But I was transformed by my loss. And that transformation brought me to where I am today, five years later.
Karen Ortman 16:34
What would you say was the most instrumental resource associated with your transformation?
Phillip Tyler 16:43
I would say the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, because that following year, I attended a loss survivors event. And I had never done anything like that before. I'd never even heard of it before. But in that event, meeting 20, you two dozen other individuals who have had loss, I realized for the first time that I wasn't alone, because loneliness is this powerful emotion that you feel, even in the presence of hundreds of people, you feel that they can't understand what I've gone through, they can't empathize correctly with how I feeling. I felt alone until I got with that group, and realize I wasn't, and I was willing to then share my story, and expose my heart and emotions. And I realized this mask that I was wearing, did not serve my purpose, and finally removed it. And were then able to heal what I wasn't able to reveal for 50 years.
Karen Ortman 17:50
Wow. Yeah. There are listeners, I'm sure who wear the mask, just as you did. What guidance can you offer? For them to at least entertain the idea of removing the mask?
Phillip Tyler 18:13
Yeah, I would say to them, what I have learned in every period of time, five years, it's not a long time, when you've been on this blue marble for 55 years, is that what you run from doesn't go away. If we equate it to predator and prey, what you run from chases you. I was running from being an emotional being a man, I was running from the perception of what masculinity was. It didn't go away, it continued to chase me what you confront, you can ultimately deal with. And I had to do that. Now taking that mask off, helps you to confront as opposed to running from the issues. That's what I would say. And and I would say sometimes it involves simply having the vulnerable conversations like we are having today. Sometimes it may need professional help. And here's what I'll tell you about professional help. Because I grew up and was raised that counseling wasn't for us was black folks. What I realized when I went to my first counseling session, my counselor said this to me, Karen, she said, Phil, what would it look like if you allowed yourself to be a hot chocolate mess? And I said to her, I have no idea because I would never allow that to happen. And then I did. And then I was finally able to confront all of those issues. That kept me in this impostor syndrome that kept me avoiding dealing with those subjects that I should have avoided before allowed me to be human.
Karen Ortman 19:58
Phillip Tyler 19:59
with all these assotiated emotions.
Karen Ortman 20:01
How challenging was that process for you, though to turn into that person?
Phillip Tyler 20:05
Haha, very, very. Again, this is, you know, we are as men particularly and, and women have to deal with this a lot, but I'm talking about for what it was to me, particularly with men, we have been acculturated to not be that to be stoic, to be dispassionate, never too high, never too low. All that is nonsense. If I wouldn't use a classic Silje and argument, right. All humans have emotions. All men are human. Therefore, all men have emotions. Yet, our culture doesn't allow us to be overlaid that with our professions, even worse, right. So it was difficult. But in order for me to move forward in my grief journey, I had to let I be stuck where I was.
Karen Ortman 20:58
When did you realize that based upon your experience having lost a son to suicide? Did you know that you had to become an advocate on behalf of suicide prevention? Tell me about that journey?
Phillip Tyler 21:14
Yeah. So shortly after my son passed, and I went to this law survival event, I thought, you know how many others are suffering like me in silence. And so I started with law enforcement and first responders, firefighters, because they did so much for me and my family at that time. And I created what I call this positive pickets events. So we would a group of us would show up at a precinct at a fire station, at a city hall with picket signs. Now, we didn't tell the media we didn't tell the the officers and firefighters, but the signs weren't negative. The signs were you are not alone. We see you, you know, referring them to services and centers. And they would come out and they'd have these wonderful, vulnerable conversations, I sat and talk with an Assistant Fire Chief Karen hugged me, he said, I've never told anyone this in my career, but I lost my father to suicide. And because you're standing out here today was the first time I shared it, we hugged, we cried. And I at that moment, I knew I can't stop here. And after that event, families started reaching out to me.
Karen Ortman 22:26
What made you come up with that idea?
Phillip Tyler 22:28
You know, if it was, you know, seeing incidents that were occurring in the nation that were negative, toward our first responders, and I would tell you this, the fire district number eight, and I have to plug this in Spokane County. They did for me. After the incident, they stayed, they cleared the scene, they cleaned the scene. This wasn't a path that they would normally do. People would be having to go their insurance companies to do this. They did this for me out of the kindness of their hearts. And I am still connected with these gentlemen, and women to this day. And we met at their station one day, and we all hugged, we shared a meal. And I just knew in my heart that Devon's passing, could not simply be that his legacy was transforming a 50 year old father, to share with other fathers and hopefully mothers that we need to do better by our young men. And I say, young man, because this artistic Lee there are three, four times more likely to die by suicide, right? They choose more lethal means he doesn't that young women and other women are not doing this. But it's the second leading cause of death in my state, Washington for people ages 10 to 24, and primarily men. And so I knew I had to do something. And so I started there. And I had to then reshape what I couldn't go out there every day to do as my work prevented me from doing this. And as people began to reach out, to me care, much like we reached out connected. I knew that by sharing my story, my hurt, there was some healing in this conversation.
Karen Ortman 24:02
Yeah, it almost sounds like a rebirth for you.
Phillip Tyler 24:05
I would say absolutely. I would say absolutely. And, and I would say to that it's sad that I had to be reborn at 50. You know, I had I know what I know. Now, I believe I could have prevented a suicide.
Karen Ortman 24:24
That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself.
Phillip Tyler 24:26
It is. It is but I think that is part of the legacy that I hold. And Gary for Devon, and I want to be able to communicate in spaces like your podcast today to tell people that they do matter. And share that message as broad as liking.
Karen Ortman 24:45
I bet you have quite an impact on your audience when you speak. Because I'm sort of mesmerized right here. Just having this conversation with you. You You're very good. You're very impactful in the, in the way in which you share such a personal story. And I appreciate you, I appreciate you doing that. And sharing, particularly here with us.
Phillip Tyler 25:18
Thank you, I really do believe that that connection is our greatest protection, right? There are obviously there's risk factors and warning signs. And these kinds of things, but connection because it prevents loneliness, it prevents that feeling that you are not alone. And that connection could start as just a, a one off conversation via LinkedIn that didn't move to a wonderful podcast, you matter. And then it can move to other things out of that, it to me, Karen, and I use this analogy a lot. We are coming out of a pandemic, we are in the endemic stages. But what we knew was powerful during that pandemic was PPE, right? Personal Protective Equipment. What I say, for our situation, as we're talking about today, is create that PPA, your personal peer advisors, right. And now I'm going to consider Karen, as one I'm going to consider your producer is one because we met in off channel, those persons that I can come to for quick and brief check ins, to allow me to share with vulnerability that would allow me grace to share a story. And I think that that that PPA helps us do a couple of things. It gives us feedback when we are sharing our things. And it also gives us the right meaning. Hey, Phil, maybe you should share this with this audience. Oh, I hadn't thought about that, Karen. So it's protected in nature.
Karen Ortman 26:45
Yeah. And I would say that LinkedIn is is a great forum for you in which to share all of the valuable information that you are sharing and desire to share. That's how you and I became connected. I started following you and then reached out. And I would recommend anybody interested in hearing what you have to say to follow you on LinkedIn? Aside from the work that you're doing, which is tremendous. Other, are there other ways in which people can become educated? Regarding suicide prevention? You would protect particularly recommend as a survivor.
Phillip Tyler 27:36
Absolutely, yeah, I would start with obviously, I'm a board member in Washington State For the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. That is a great, great resource. The American Association of Suicidology is also another great resource to learn about that the Dougie Center, which is which is out of Portland, Oregon, wonderful, wonderful resource partner. The the Suicide Prevention Resource Center Online is wonderful and and probably a connected friend of yours. And mine on LinkedIn, a beautiful human being name and moss Rogers. She wrote a book called emotionally naked, wonderful resource to fall back on if you're not connected with her. Karen, I would recommend that connection YouTube, to powerful women who really have a voice and platforms to be able to do what I think is very important connect, again, going back to connect this prediction. So those are some of the resources. I mean, there's some great literature out there, there's a book called after suicide loss, which is really beneficial for families, teens, mothers and fathers grandparents, to resource as well.
Karen Ortman 28:50
Okay. What would you say to somebody who maybe has concerns about a loved one. And you know, that concern or concern can be very subjective. You, sometimes people are uncomfortable articulating a concern, they don't want to be wrong, they don't want to point the finger, they, you know, this is still a very much stigmatized subject, again, which is the purpose of you matter, because we're trying to remove that stigma by talking about it. But there could be a listener out there who has a loved one that they have concerns about, and don't know quite what to do about that. Absolutely. Any recommendations?
Phillip Tyler 29:37
Yeah. So we first have to start with warning signs for suicide, right? immediate risk signs, serious risk signs and the risk factors. And then we talk about going on to those things. So first, I'd say to them if your person that you're caring about whether it's family, sibling loved one is talking about wanting to die or kill themselves So those are immediate risk factors call 988. Right? This is the new system that's in place. That is very important. And I'll talk about it from two points here. It's important because for me, again, going back to a blackmail, we were afraid to call 911. Because we thought the outcome might be more tragic than the than the acute psychosis that's occurring. Right? Now. 988 helps direct you to the appropriate resources. And it may not be a law enforcement brother or sister, it may be a community health provider. Yes. So if they are talking about wanting to die or kill themselves, that's an immediate risk, if they are looking for ways to kill themselves searching online, talking about obtaining weapons, or these kinds of things, immediate risk called 988. You know, when we talk about serious risk, you know, are they talking about unbearable pain or feeling trapped? Are they talking about being a burden to others? Are you seeing an increased use of alcohol or drugs? They're acting, you know, agitated, anxious? Are they sleeping more than than usual? Now, it's tough when you're talking about teens, because my boys will sleep a lot. But are they sleeping more than you would notice? And you as a parent, particularly trust your gut? You know, what, it's more than than it is? Right? Are they withdrawing or feeling isolated? These are serious risks? And then are there associated risk factors? Have they had prior attempts? You know, do they have a diagnosed mental disorder? Right? Are they are they, you know, not getting the appropriate mental health care that they're needing? Have they been associated recently with another suicide in their community? Right, we talked about contagion in this case. And then if those things are present, then we're going to what we call look for the signs, right? And there's a great acronym called learn that you can utilize L stands for looking for the signs, right? Are they talking joking about it? Or they're increasing signs of alcohol use or etc, then E stands for empathize and listen, right? And you use that word empathy early on, right? Offer compassion, not advice, particularly as a parent that your your children don't want advice at this point, right? Avoid judgment, except how they're feeling. We may not feel the same way. I know, as a parent, I didn't have that empathy that needed. Right, summarize what you've heard, you know, so you're saying, or so you're feeling, et cetera? And allow that open ended question to come. And then parents and loved ones partner? Listen, listen, we don't have to always be the first responder, the Savior. Listen. And then a of the Learn is asked directly ask them that this there's this misconception that if you talk about or ask about suicide, it will increase suicidality. That's not actual. We know this now from research. But ask them calmly. Are you thinking about suicide? Are you thinking about killing yourself? Right? And if they are, then it's your job then to do the are remove the dangers? Are there any firearms in your house? Can you lock up items that might be detrimental to their safety? They could include knives and sharp objects, right? Can you put them in a position where they are safe, ensuring that they can't carry out a plan if they have one, putting time and distance between those lethal means are really what's going to help a save a life, and then are just gonna be in the last step would be the next steps, calling that resource that 988 or calling a counselor calling a family member calling 9118? You ultimately have to that's what I would say to those out there that are concerned. And again, I go back to trust your gut. Yeah, we know. We know when something doesn't feel right. And we need to really rely on that more than if you're walking down a dark alley and something doesn't feel right here. I'm assuming you're darting toward the light, or somewhere where it's safer. That's the same mentality once you if you feel something is wrong, and a loved one or a partner,
Karen Ortman 34:01
or God is a very powerful thing,
Phillip Tyler 34:03
Karen Ortman 34:04
and thank you for mentioning Nine, eight. I appreciate that. How are your other surviving children doing today?
Phillip Tyler 34:15
Well, my youngest son just turned 22. He has experienced some mental health issues. Now. I say that with a positive intonation, and here's why. But for the loss of his older brother, he would not have himself shared his emotions and checked himself in to a behavioral health place, he would have suppressed it, just like his brother did just like his father did. So there is some legacy to Devon's loss. But you know, he manages, right he still is a young man who has a mask like his father, and he's working through that. Yeah. And everyone's grief journey is different usually. But but he's able to recognize that and get to his steps where he needs to be right. Surviving grief and grief journey is like a baby learning to walk right? You finally raised from your knees to your feet, you stumbled back three steps, but you move forward to you stumbled back a step and you move forward to and you're reaching out for that next destination. That's how grief is right. It's not linear. Like many might think, you know, I have Morial grieve, I move on. It simply does not work that way. So we are moving through at our own pace, and trying to live this new life without dividends.
Karen Ortman 35:50
What was Devon studying in college?
Phillip Tyler 35:53
He was... A management he he was going to be a store manager. In his life, I you know, and that was his dream. I think ultimately, he wanted to be a tattoo artist. He never shared it, you know? But he would do it on the side. That was a side hustle, if you will.
Karen Ortman 36:16
What do you want the world to know about Devon?
Phillip Tyler 36:23
I want the world to know that even though it is a loss to my family and the world he has created and we have gained advocates for this issue. And I think by sharing his story with others, you become part of that advocacy, you whoever hears the message of his loss. And I think I want the world to know that. You know, even if you're not a licensed professional, you can impact the world and others around you just like Devon is doing today, five years since he left us
Karen Ortman 37:05
just like you're doing
Phillip Tyler 37:07
just like I'm attempting, yes ma'am.
Karen Ortman 37:11
What's Devon's legacy?
Phillip Tyler 37:17
I would like to believe that it is particularly for young men out there. Don't wait to show your emotions don't waste don't wait to express your emotions, and showing emotion and empathy is as human as existing. I think his legacy is, is helping me drive other young men, men, women, and others, to a realm where we can remove the stigma that's associated with masculinity, or what we like to call misconstrued masculinity, you can be sensitive, you can be empathetic, and still be masculine. And I think he was that person. Even though his masculinity resided in the right hand throttle of the motorcycle at 20 miles an hour. He was still the kind of gentle person so there is no box that men fit into. There is no box that women fit into and we all need to be ourselves, express ourselves and we all myself care and others need to give others this space and grace to do that.
Karen Ortman 38:31
And remove the mask.
Phillip Tyler 38:33
Oh boy, oh, boy. The mask must be removed. Right? We we need to remove the math and get onto our task. I say the task is helping others learn how to be wholly human.
Karen Ortman 38:45
I love it. Is there anything that we have not talked about that you would like to share today?
Phillip Tyler 38:53
Wow. No, I would say well, yes, I would say there's a call to action for those that are listening. adults, young folks are professionals, first responders, etc. Strengthen your relational connections, my friends, strengthen your relational connections. That helps prevent loneliness. For those of you that have lost honored the lived experiences. Share your story when you're ready. Right? It really helps. Be compassionate with yourself and others. The world Lord Have Mercy The world needs it. And share as much as you can and the you matter podcast is that format to be able to do that challenge these myths and misconceptions about loss and grief.
Karen Ortman 39:44
Well, thank you so much, my friend. It's been very nice talking to you today and I truly appreciate all of your efforts in trying to educate the public on suicide prevention.
Phillip Tyler 39:56
Thank you for having me on the journey. It really means a lot and I'll say this and I'm not trying to be hyperbolic, but But you mattered, and the show matters. Your audience matters. And I'm really blessed to be here today.
Karen Ortman 40:10
Phillip Tyler 40:10
I appreciate you.
Karen Ortman 40:11
And you matter, as well. So thank you to my guests, Phil and to all of our listeners for joining us for today's episode of You matter if any information presented was triggering or disturbing, please feel free to contact the wellness exchange at 212-443-9999 or m y US Department of campus safety and their victim services unit at 212-998-2222. Please share, like and subscribe to you matter on Apple podcasts Google Play tune in or Spotify