Suicide and Comfort for Siblings with Marcie McSwane


Marcie McSwane View to the Future CathyKrafve.comMarcie McSwane was home from college when she got the call that changed her life. “You need to get home,” her dad said urgently, “Patrick’s threatened to kill himself.”

Mental illness often strikes a child without warning, leaving families reeling in their search for answers. But, how do you find comfort after a sibling’s suicide? 

A Sibling’s Suicide

For almost a year, her parents worked diligently behind the scenes battling for their oldest son’s mental health, while shielding their younger children from trauma and bewilderment. But the day came when her father had to warn Marcie as events unfolded.

With so many unknowns, police officers met the family at their home for Patrick’s safety as well as theirs. Marcie will never forget the sorrow of seeing her beloved older brother led away in hand cuffs. 

After a year of protecting the other siblings, their family switched gears, preparing to fight the long battle together. Fortunately, by telling their story, families like the McSwanes shed light on mental health for all of us.

Terminal Stage Schizophrenia

For a heroic nine years Patrick fought the battle against the disease of Schizophrenia with the loving support of his family. Finally, though, his disease progressed to terminal, ending in suicide. Marcie searched for ways to process the pain, compounded by confusing emotions like grief, guilt, and anguish. No one wants to be an expert on sibling suicide, and yet, she found that talking about her experience helped others.

How can a family stick together and initiate loving communities in the battle for mental health? Now she offers practical ideas based on what helped her family, including how her parents helped the “other” siblings.

Comfort for Siblings

“You’re grieving for your first friend,” she explains tenderly when I interviewed her recently for Fireside Talk Radio. She encourages parents to find the balance of protecting young siblings, while respecting their perspective as they grow into adults.

“It took the whole family to battle the disease. That’s why God gave us families,” she says.

Since mental illness can preoccupy many years, the siblings roles change. As she and her brother, Ryan, became adults, their parents included them, often making joint family decisions. Noting how difficult a child’s mental illness is on the parents, she adds “You have a front row seat to watch your parents walk their child through it.”

One example of their unity and support for each other came as they waited for news together on the night Patrick died. “My dad asked Ryan to lead us in prayer,” she says tenderly, in a reverent whisper.

More Information and Help

For more of Marcie’s wisdom and insight, go to for Marcie’s podcasts: Her Wisdom: Celebrating the Beautiful Life of A Sibling and Her Story: How Siblings Suffer and Heal.

In addition, each fall, Tyler hosts the Peace of Mind Conference, in conjunction with Samaritan Counseling Center of East Texas. Tickets go quickly, but you will find videos and encouragement at

Don’t Forget to Celebrate

Marcie encourages families to remember the blessings of their sibling’s life. For example, on Patrick’s birthday, Marcie celebrates “Sibling Appreciation Day,” gathering her closest friends to laugh, cry, and share about the wonders of growing up with siblings. Together, her family and friends honor her beloved brother and his beautiful life Marcie remembers with joy. 

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, You call us into a loving relationship with You. You surround us with loved ones. Sometimes our relationships are pure heaven and sometimes they hurt, often simultaneously. We don’t understand when life gets confusing and painful. In the midst of our pain, we turn to You. We bring our wounds to You and ask You to have mercy on us. Help us, O Lord of heaven and earth. Open our hearts to receive the comfort You pour out through Your tender servants. In Jesus name. Amen.

More Adventures to Come. Up Next

With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day around the corner, I’ve got some special surprises coming up. I’m so excited, I can hardly keep the secret! Stay tuned for more adventures….

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