A SLM Conversation with Brent Kraus
Silver Lining Moments:
a space for conversations, thoughts, and ideas that expand love and light
Suicide. The next words that come to mind are often: sadness, shame, and stigma. My guest, Brent Kraus, shares his experience surrounding his brother’s suicide. His is a story of strength.
Suicide by the numbers:
- 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide per year
- 1 person dies by suicide every 11 minutes in the US
- 1 suicide affects 115 people
It’s pervasive. It’s all around us. But, it’s not about numbers. It’s about individuals, many who use smiles to mask sadness, families and communities.
Brent shares his experience of losing his brother by suicide, his love for his brother, and the incredible loss he felt. He was working at a tech job, coding in a cubicle. During this time, he listened to a podcast about earning money while following your passion. From this, Brent got an idea to form a business that honors his brother’s memory, celebrates his brother’s love of fashion and bow-ties and that advocates for suicide prevention and awareness. He discussed this with his mother and Ella Bing Bow Ties (now Ella Bing Haberdashery) was born. Brent focuses on the business side and his mother and father make the bow ties.
As I listened to Brent, I was overcome by the Silver Lining he and his family are for those affected by suicide. Many, those struggling with suicidal thoughts and those who lost someone to suicide, deal with shame and stigma. When shame and stigma exist, they have a way of darkening the clouds of depression, grief, and loneliness. Yet, when people share their stories of suicide, shame and stigma cannot persist; compassion and love take their place. And, in this place, healing can happen; the dark clouds can be lifted; and connection with others restored. By sharing their experience and through Ella Bing Haberdashery, Brent and his family are shining compassion and love for others to see their way through the darkness. In this light, there is no place for shame and stigma. They are saying: you are not alone; I understand you; I support you.
As part of their advocacy work, Ella Bing Haberdashery supports the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. “[O]ut of a passion to help provide resources for suicide prevention and awareness after individually experiencing the loss of a loved one due to suicide[,]” Brent and Kim Randall started an annual fundraiser Beer & Bow Ties. This September’s Beer & Bow Ties raised $91,000! As Brent explains, it is not a sad event, rather, it is a celebration that “Every Life Is Worth Living.”
For more information or for anyone in need of support,
Crisis Center of Tampa Bay: https://www.crisiscenter.com/
The Crisis Center provides a hotline: “If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide; verbal, physical or psychological abuse; or have any reason to be afraid,please call 2-1-1 for support and services.”
In Brent and his parents, David and Lisa Kraus, I see strength:
- in how they honor and celebrate his brother Matt as the “light up the room” person who had an illness,
- in how they came together to start Ella Bing Haberdashery as a social enterprise and advocate for suicide prevention and awareness;
- in how they are helping to replace shame and stigma associated with suicide with compassion and love; and
- in their commitment to their family and to the community.
And, from my conversation with Brent Kraus, I discover how:
a moment of SUICIDE is lined by STRENGTH.
Thank you for listening to Silver Lining Moments.
By Brent Kraus sharing and by you listening, together we are:
expanding love and light,
one person at a time,
one story at a time,
one Silver Lining Moment at a time.
 World Health Organization at https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/
 “11 Facts About Suicide” by DoSomething.org at https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-suicide#fn4 citing American Association of Suicidology. “Facts and Statistics.” Accessed September 6, 2019. https://suicidology.org/facts-and-statistics/.
 “The Ripple Effect of Suicide” by Elana Premack Sandler, LCSW, MPH, September 10, 2018 at https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2018/The-Ripple-Effect-of-Suicide