Loss of her only child to suicide honors him in setting up a nonprofit

Sharing a love for the outdoors, hiking was one of their favorite past times when together. Taken just a couple of months prior to his death, Kathy Mullen and Eric hiked the Sweetwater Creek State Park.  His favorite store was REI and he had a dream to hike the Appalachian Trail. (L-R, Kathy and son Eric Mullen)
Caption
Sharing a love for the outdoors, hiking was one of their favorite past times when together. Taken just a couple of months prior to his death, Kathy Mullen and Eric hiked the Sweetwater Creek State Park. His favorite store was REI and he had a dream to hike the Appalachian Trail. (L-R, Kathy and son Eric Mullen)

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

On the evening of Sept. 26, 2018, Kathy Mullen knew her son Eric was struggling but had no idea it would be the last time they would talk.

The following afternoon, she received a phone call from some of his friends telling her they were trying to get Eric to the hospital. Despite efforts between his friends and law enforcement, it was too late.

We couldn’t rescue Eric in time, but he saved five lives through organ donations, Mullen said.

“Suicide is a major public health problem and a leading cause of death in the United States,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health’s site.

Hidden behind Eric’s generosity, infectious personality and smiles was a soul that was lost and broken. At 26, there was still a lot of life yet to live, but he couldn’t see it.

“Every person’s story is different and how they address crisis in their life. I made the commitment to Eric before I left the University of Iowa Hospital, I would do whatever I could to help others not be in this situation and have to go through the loss I went through.”

Kathy Mullen holding a stuffed bear made out of her son's favorite shirt.
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Kathy Mullen holding a stuffed bear made out of her son's favorite shirt.

Credit: Mary Hannah Harte Photography, LLC

Credit: Mary Hannah Harte Photography, LLC

Mullen’s authenticity about the gaps in mental health services and soul-crushing journey placed her where she envisioned herself two years ago, Mullen’s Miracles.

Recently approved as a nonprofit, Kathy Mullen and Jeff Pike, co-founders, launched its core programs and partner directory.

“Part of our mission is to be able to provide individualized options, respective support systems, support provisions to those on the edge, those assisting others in crisis and those who have lost a loved one to suicide,” co-founder Mullen said.

From the “Push in the ocean to recovery” to “Resilience” phases they ask, “What do you need and how can we help you get it? It is a joint decision lent with support as programs are worked through,” the survivor said.

An important piece in the works is an app that will provide several resources, and taking to the road will be speaking engagements and education in settings such as schools or churches.

“I know you can’t save everyone, but what I can do is make a difference in the lives of others," she said.

For more information, watch their first virtual event ‘Be a Miracle,' to donate or volunteer, visit www.mullensmiracles.org.

Each Sunday we write about a deserving person or charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To submit a story for us to cover, email us at ajc.doinggood@gmail.com.