Houston advocate raises awareness for loss survivors, those in crisis for National Suicide Prevention Week

Heather Lottering describes her big brother Nathan Dornbusch as a protector. Pictures on his obituary webpage show his connection with family members through the years. 

She says it's important to recognize the pain surviving loved ones deal with long after that person is gone.

MORE: 988 hotline to simplify access to emotional distress and suicidal crisis resources

"My brain actually wouldn't let me visit some of the darkest parts of it," says Lottering. "As that unraveled over time, my grief got heavy. It was very intense."

Family photo of Nathan Dornbusch and sister Heather Lottering (Family submitted photo)

Lottering, who is also a board member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Southeast Texas Chapter, says suicide survivors are at a higher risk of taking their own life. 

"You are also going to these depths of darkness, and you're feeling the pain of what your loved one felt," she says.


"It's a product of loving someone and losing someone. And I think that it's very hard for someone who is struggling in their darker moments to have a real understanding of the support and the love that they have."

AFSP reports some alarming statistics that impact suicide victims in Texas before their death. In 2021, 67% of communities in Texas did not have enough mental health providers to serve residents, according to federal guidelines. There's also a rise in out-of-pocket costs for care and a lack of quality counselors.

Family photo of Nathan Dornbusch and sister Heather Lottering (Family submitted photo)

"It's even more challenging now to even find a counselor, even if you have benefits or the ability to pay for it," says Lottering. "I also think there are still people who just think they could get through this on their own."

The organization has several services available for individuals in crisis and their families in person and online. You can find them here.


Lottering is also a frequent participant in the Out of the Darkness Walk, an annual event that raises awareness and funds for suicide prevention and community resources. She uses it as a way to connect with other families in need.

"If we can come in and help that group of people and support them, then maybe we can bring even more awareness to this, this type of tragic ending to someone's life," says Lottering.

Also available nationwide is the 988 Crisis Line - free and confidential support for people in distress. The three-digit number also provides prevention and crisis resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can learn more here.