• A friend’s suicide.
  • Mental Health and Emotional Health are different.
  • Behavior is our attempt to compensate for our emotional pain.
  • My plea is to start thinking different about behavior and its true roots.
  • People have a basic human need for love, connection, and belonging.

A Suicide Close To Home & A Plea

By Kevin R. Strauss, M.E.

Last week I received some terrible news.


My mom called to tell me an old childhood and down-the-street neighbor friend died by suicide at the age of 55. Talk about a gut-punch. I cannot even fathom what his wife and three teenage kids are feeling or his father and two older brothers.


I’m not looking for any thoughts, prayers, or condolences. Honestly, I had not had any contact with him for more than 20-years. The last time I recall seeing him was in the 1990s, in San Francisco, where he and his brother took me out for my very first sushi experience.


Still, he mattered to me because he was a real and significant part of my childhood. He introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons and the rock group Queen.


He mattered because he was a unique energy in the universe – just like you are.


My heart hurts knowing he was in pain. I don’t know many details but I have learned he struggled with physical ailments and mental health challenges for years.


He had been getting help with both for a while with no significant success.


Our species has put forth a massive effort regarding physical health… or at least, staying alive. I think we’re all pretty grateful for that.


But when it comes to “mental health”, I think we’re failing pretty miserably and it’s only getting worse.


It needs to change.


I know many people are working hard in the industry and if today’s “systems” are helping you, wonderful. Keep at it!


However, from my vantage point and studying human behavior for 22-years, I believe we need an epic and dramatic change, shift, and pivot to a whole new paradigm of thinking.


I’m writing this post as a Call To Action to start thinking differently about behavior.


I’m writing to offer a distinct differentiation between mental health and emotional health. While they interrelate, they are NOT the same.


I’m writing to plant a seed and consider that a person’s behavior, any behavior, is NOT a conscious choice or the result of a “broken brain” whether it’s chemistry or genetics, but rather…


A person’s behavior, far more often, is a subconsciously driven attempt to compensate for an unmet need or pain and that pain is emotionally rooted.


  • How many people turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their emotional pain and then develop an addiction?
  • We use food to comfort ourselves from negative emotions or celebrate the positive ones.
  • We hurt others through gun violence and racism.
  • We become depressed when we feel disconnected and not valued or loved.
  • We experience anxiety when we fear a possible pain and that pain is often emotional in the form of shame or judgement. (e.g., public speaking opens us up to judgement).
  • We seek power, money, & status (PMS) in order to feel valued and like we matter.
  • We “overachieve” to improve our PMS – to feel valued, because we’re not feeling valued for the unique person we are in the universe.


And to us subconsciously, Feeling Valued = Feeling Loved.


Love is a basic human need and without it (including connection and belonging), we experience very real emotional pain.


Love is not “mental”, it’s emotional, and we NEED it.


This is my plea. This is the paradigm shift I believe humanity needs or we will self-destruct sooner than later. Just like so many of us are self-destructing or destroying others with our own compensatory behaviors.


Just like a parent passes on their own feelings of inadequacy, their big “T”, and especially their little “t” trauma, and their pain of not feeling loved the way they needed it, to their kids.


Hurt people [will] hurt people, including themselves.
This is no more clear than in the case of suicide or gun violence.


People are not crazy, they’re in pain, and a person will do ANYTHING to ease their pain now even if it is harmful down-the-road (e.g., cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, etc.)


Happy people do good things.
The more heard & understood, valued & loved, connected & belonging we feel, the happier we are.


This is how we, as a species, can end the destructive behaviors and live easier, happier, and globally peaceful lives.


Please take this to heart for yourself and those closest to you.


Please share and spread the word. YOU are part of the solution and we’re ALL in this together. We’re connected because that is our biology.


Peace. Love. Connect.