By Henry Pontual
Paula Fontenelle was a noted journalist, a published author, and public relations professional working with high profile politicians and organizations across Brazil when her father took his life in 2005.
Her search for meaning in the face of such tragedy led her to make a radical career change, and today Fontenelle is a psychoanalyst finishing a Masters degree in counseling — and a deep dedication to reducing the enduring cultural stigma surrounding suicide.
As a former journalist, her first instinct on the path to better understanding her family’s own story was to seek out and collect a broad range of related stories and perspectives. She interviewed individuals who had attempted suicide, the families who lost loved ones to self-inflicted death, and specialists from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Brazil.
“Understand suicide” is the result of Fontenelle's journey of self-discovery. This website helps us understand the complex nature of suicide, as well its profound impact on those left behind.
She is currently finishing the second edition of her book "Understand Suicide: living with loss, paths to prevention", which was a finalist of “Prêmio Jabuti,” the Brazilian national book prize, and has been a leading reference in that country for the mental health field. It will soon be published in English.
My podcast "Understand Suicide" can be found on all platforms. Listen to the first episode here.