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Dennis Gillan John O'Leary Live Inspired PodcastSuicide Prevention Month: Breaking Down the Stigma on Mental Health

Today is a special episode of the Live Inspired podcast in light of September being Suicide Prevention Month 2017.

Dennis Gillan joins us to share his story on a topic that affects us all: Mental health. He’s committed his life to reducing the number of completed suicides and removing the stigma around mental health after losing his own two brothers to suicide.

Today’s episode will help us break down the stigma around mental health and better care for ourselves, those we love and those who are in the wake of suicide already. Don’t miss this powerful episode.

Subscribe &  listen on Apple PodcastsStitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio or listen here:


  • Talk saves lives. If you’re dealing with mental health issues, diagnosed or not, know that it’s okay to talk about it.
  • 9 out of 10 people who die from suicide have a mental illness.
  • Dennis was away at college when his older brother Mark died by suicide. “I came home for the funeral but didn’t even stay a week. As a family, we just kept going as if things were normal. I didn’t see a counselor – I started drinking a lot.”
  • “When a suicide happens, it’s like everyone sitting around the table and a grenade goes off and someone is not there when the smoke clears and everyone asks: “What happened!?”
    • Every 13 minutes someone commits suicide, every 14 minutes there are people asking “What happened?”
  • 11 years later, Dennis’s younger brother Matt died by suicide.
  • People often feel like they don’t know what to say or do after a suicide: Just show up. It’s called the ministry of presence. 
  • I was reminded of how good people are when I was low. Someone anonymously mowed my lawn and it made such a difference; reminded me someone cared + took a burden off.
  • After my second brother died from suicide, I gave up alcohol.
    • I did it one day at a time + with the help of a counselor.
    • I’ve fallen in love with sobriety. I used to think I’d be missing out. Now, my only regret is I didn’t do it sooner.
    • Surround yourself with positive people. Men need men – I meet with a group every week. They give me hope/social connection which was important because when I got depressed I wanted to withdraw.

How to get ahead of suicide:

  • Talk about mental health. 90% of completed suicides are by people with mental health issues; we need to be as comfortable talking about mental health as a broken leg.
  • 20% seek treatment. If you’re not feeling well mentally, see somebody. It doesn’t take all your problems away, but will stack them up neater + help you cope.
  • It’s okay to say ‘I’m not okay.’
  • “Be real. Life isn’t all skittles + unicorns. We know this.”
  • Watch the video where Dennis talks about the last night he drank.
  • “I hid it for a long time. When I started talking about my brothers and their deaths, I was amazed at the deeper relationships I have with people + how we relate to this topic.”
  • “When we share our joy it’s a double joy when we share our sorrow it’s have a sorrow.” – Swedish proverb
  • After sitting on my hands for 18 years, my healing accelerated the minute I started getting real, being open.
  • Check out these tips from National Association of Mental Illness to Take Charge of your Mental Health + Support a Loved One’s Mental Health.
  • Join the conversation on social media using #SuicidePrevention and #StigmaFree

Dennis Gillan’s Live Inspired 7

1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? Mans Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. The Bible which I’m reading with my men’s group.

2. Tomorrow you discover your wealthy uncle shockingly dies at the age of 103; leaving you millions. I want to take my Winnebago and talk about mental health and suicide prevention for free to anyone who will listen.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. Photo album of my kids.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? Matt and Mark, it’s what we should be doing if it weren’t for the way things turned out. That is the ultimate dream. Matt, Mark and me sitting, looking at the ocean.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? A friend of mine who heard you speak and said, I just heard John O’Leary speak, you gotta check him out. He said you were the real deal and you are.

6. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at age 20? I’d tell myself go home and be with Mark, be a better brother and quit drinking. I went through some of my life in a blur and I needed to be focused; if I was focused maybe I could have helped those guys.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? He really tried to be a good guy.


If you enjoyed today’s episode: Subscribe (automatically get new episodes), rate & review (help spread the word!) this podcast.

I can’t wait to see you here next Thursday for the start of Season 5! Today is your day. Live Inspired.

Live Inspired with John every day on FacebookTwitterYouTubeLinkedInPinterest and get his Monday Motivation email: www.JohnOLearyInspires.com/Monday-Morning

Thanks for being here. Thanks for being part of the movement to live inspired and touch lives along the way. If you ever have questions or ideas – please share them at info@johnolearinspires.com.

6 replies on “Live Inspired Podcast: S5 | Ep. 46 Dennis Gillan”

I am amazed by the strength and genuineness of Dennis! Only Dennis could make others laugh during such a serious and sad podcast?. What an impactful podcast, thank you.

I do not have time right now to listen to this podcast. My heart goes out to Dennis. I have suffered from depression off and on for 42 years. I have read many self help books, been in therapy, attended some great workshops, and I have attempted to commit suicide. Now, when I do not feel well emotionally, I admit myself to a hospital. I always come out stronger and my faith in God has greatly increased as I have gone through life’s trials and tribulations. A new purpose for my life has been coming into focus for me these last couple of months. I just want to encourage people to hang in there. This too shall pass. Twenty four hours makes such a difference. It is 2017. Millions of people around the world suffer from depression or other mental illness. Thank you John for having Dennis as a guest to talk about the stigma attached to mental illness. Together we can make a difference!

Lorraine, thank you for sharing your story vulnerably, for taking care of yourself and for ALL you do. Honored to have you as part of the Live Inspired community and ABSOLUTELY, so happy that Dennis joined us to discuss this very important topic — and how we can better care for ourselves and others. #StigmaFree J

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