Family Statement

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Translated by: Elizabeth Greene

The grief is incredibly overwhelming for our family. For our friends. For those who watched our beautiful boy, Gianni Manganelli, grow up. The grief is overwhelming too for the Deaf Community, the Academic Community, and the Filmmaking Community.

Why is it that we grieve so much for him? We grieve for his gentle soul, his brilliance. Not only the brilliance of his intellect, but the exquisite luminous brilliance of his heart as well, his precious sweetness.

People are fixated on wanting to know “how “ his life ended. But really, the manner of his passing is insignificant. What truly matters is what led up to– and what comes after – the moment at which it happened. When his life ended, it was by means of self-infliction. Why? So that he could finally put an end to the torment that he had been suffering, and had struggled with, and had believed he could somehow manage on his own.

This confounded people. Growing up, he had been an extraordinary, beautiful, healthy boy. He displayed the very essence of his true core being, his very nature. An individual standing in his authentic self. But then the darkness that would descend upon him began to emerge, and eventually overshadowed who he was, his true nature. Precisely what this darkness was, we still don’t know. But who Gianni truly was slowly became occluded by this psychological – mental and emotional – darkness.

The challenges of battling the darkness became a cycle of normalcy, health and wellbeing offset by periods of mental health concerns. At first, the periods of concern were minimal and brief in contrast to the periods of wellbeing. But eventually, the balance shifted and the periods of darkness became more and more prevalent, while the periods of normalcy and wellbeing diminished.

Some of you who knew my son only within the academic world assumed that how he was during that time of acute darkness was an accurate reflection of who he was. But that was not normal for him.

It was confusing for some people. Those who knew him at his healthiest and saw him at his peak were shocked and dismayed and heartbroken to by the change in him. Others who only knew him in the very recent past assumed he was just odd – “that’s just him” – and never saw who he really was.  Many things were overlooked. So many factors contributed to and culminated in and ultimately caused him to decide he’d had enough. He just wanted his incessant torment to stop. He didn’t want to succumb to the darkness that haunted him. He didn’t want it to hijack his life.

In truth, our son Gianni genuinely loved life. He loved his sister, he loved his family, he passionately loved everything about life – he loved the world, animals, nature. He cherished and adored all of life.

But by him putting an end to the relentless torment, it was ultimately that very darkness that took his life from him. With that understanding, what do we do now? We all must understand that WE must change. We must look closely at ourselves and ask ourselves, what can I do? What can we do? How can we as a community take accountability for this? What would community accountability mean? What would it look like? What would it be?

My son Gianni would want all of you first to remember him as he was when he was at his healthiest. And to recognize that that mental health issues vary enormously from relatively minor to extremely severe. How, then, can we come from a place of heart-centeredness and compassion, to be more aware, to care deeply, and to provide support?

You may know that currently available mental health services for the deaf community are significantly lacking and insufficient. So, we have a tremendous amount of work to do. And we cannot do it by ourselves. But I know that if we all come together to accomplish this – in Gianni’s honor – he will be beaming from ear to ear, and will triumphantly know his death had much greater worth and was not in vain.

Is this what I would have liked? What our family would have liked? Would we have willingly sacrificed for this? No, it is not what we would have liked. But… OK … I invite you to support our son’s fund, which is dedicated to raising awareness, focusing on training and on providing new services to individuals who are struggling with psychological and mental health issues, so that no one else ever has to go through what my son went through.

Thank you.


3 thoughts on “Family Statement

  1. thank you all very much .. we want to help save lives i had struggle mental health with my son it sure was the hardest time of my life i was worried i couldnt help my son with him bbeing deaf and i couldnt find no deaf service or a mental health dr that could understand sign language my son was very young too young to use interpreters it was a three way communication that wasnt really helping but i was blessed with a wonderful champ interpreter that made this through with my son and the dr. Molly Brown Bowen ( interpreter) i want to thank you , you made my son smile again making sure he understood the dr and the dr understood him you deserve to be the interpreter of the year !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hugs … this vlog is not just about the fund it s to start new funds that will help deaf students and customers to be able to have asl dr or deaf dr or the whole point deaf service !!! my sister and i went through with our sons .. we do not want no one else to go through the same help us make this happen to help save others !!!!! THANK YOU

  2. Terylene, I am sure you don’t remember me but I volunteered as a “Voice” during spring shows at MSSD years ago. I am so very sorry to see this. I am a clinical social worker who also lives with depression. I have also worked at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Information HelpLine for many years. I know how hard it is for young adults and their families if they are Hearing and have searched to find out what resources there are for Deaf — the answer you know already. I wish I could make a donation right now but I will check in with Janne for updates and hope I can help soon. Holding you all in my heart. Ann W

  3. Oh Terryleene, I wish I could reach through the video screen and hug you. You’re such a beautiful woman, such a loving mother, such a wise voice even in this moment of deepest greif. You put so succinctly the duality of Gio’s sweet and true self and the darkness that descended upon him, that people who did not know him before took to be who he was. You have illuminated a deeper truth about all of us who struggle against forces seen or unseen, physically, emotionally, and have underscored the great need for compassion to be extended to those who’s struggles we do not know and might ourselves buckle under. Great good luck in establishing your fund and in finding some solace for your tragic loss in the good your outreach and efforts towards changing the status quo will unquestionably do for others. The sweetness that was Gio’s true essence certainly lives within me for that is as I always knew him. Blessings and love to you and Bob and Catalene.

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