I was an accomplice to my brother's suicide

Story highlights

  • Evan Schwantner took his life in 2010 at age 20
  • He was living with depression, his family said
  • His sister, Erin Schwantner, is devoted to raising awareness about the warning signs
  • Got a personal essay to share? Post it on iReport

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Erin Schwantner, a public relations professional in Seattle, first shared her brother's story on CNN iReport. She runs a blog, 4 The Love of Evan, to bring meaning to his life and educate others about the warning signs of suicide.

(CNN)"Funny, happy people do not kill themselves. It doesn't make sense."

That's usually what people say. "They were such a bright light ... the life of the party." I know, because I used to say these things about my brother, Evan.
    Now I know better.
    Four years ago, just a few weeks shy of his 21st birthday, Evan ended his life with the intention of forever ending his pain. And I am left with blood on my hands. My misconceptions about suicide have made me an accomplice.
    I thought his inability to deal with reality and grow up, or to get over a girlfriend, contributed to his suffering. But I was wrong; a character flaw or single traumatic event didn't lead him to taking his own life. Evan was battling an internal monologue on a daily basis.
    Erin Schwantner hosted the opening ceremony at the 2012 Out of the Darkness walk in Olympia, Washington.
    Evan was the kind of person who could make you laugh even when you didn't want to crack a smile. Everything about him was happy. A trendsetter, he knew what was cool before the rest of us. A social butterfly, he could walk with many different groups at school and was respected in all of them. A talented athlete, a creative mind with artistic gifts, he was the last person you would expect to be tor