After losing her parents to suicide, a local realtor determines to help othersMar 30, 2023 04:27PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Jenn Kikel-Lynn speaks to middle schoolers about suicide prevention. (Photo courtesy of Jenn Kikel-Lynn)
In the face of immense personal tragedy, a realtor has turned her pain into a purpose by creating a foundation to prevent suicide.
As a young adult, Jenn Kikel-Lynn, lost both of her parents to suicide within a decade. The profound impact of this loss stayed with her, motivating her to act and make a difference in the lives of others.
As a realtor, Kikel-Lynn was in a unique position to help those struggling with mental health issues. She used her platform to raise awareness about suicide prevention, advocating for greater access to resources and support for those in need.
“Our dad tragically took his life in a horrific manner when my brother and I were only 9 and 11 years old—he was 42 at the time. Our mom was suddenly a widow in her 30s, with two young kids and working multiple jobs to support us. She developed cancer soon after, lived through that battle, and then had a different type of cancer at 50. She didn’t want to go through the painful treatments again, so she ended her life at 52 years old by medically induced suicide. My brother and I were 28 and 30 years old at the time,” she said.
Kikel-Lynn, a fourth-generation Murray resident, has had a deep connection with the city. Like herself, her parents were business owners in the city. In addition, her dad was quite well known as he DJ’ed local dances and was an announcer for the Murray Independence Day parade. Those ties to a close-knit community made it difficult for her to relate to her friends and neighbors.
“For years, I was afraid of judgment if I told people that both of my parents died by suicide, so I
didn’t tell anyone the truth about my mom—I just focused on how my dad took his life. Even
though we had this nonprofit, I was still afraid to tell their stories. It wasn’t until I took a QPR class (a suicide prevention course) years ago that I was fully able to embrace their paths and choices, but that I also needed to share my experience of being a part of it.
“Talking about suicide is part of my story and my parent’s story; therefore, this topic is important to me. I want all of us to talk about it—not hide behind it.”
After dealing with the tragic loss of her parents and suffering through a divorce in her late 30s, Kikel-Lynn found meaning by serving others having breast cancer and devoting time to the deaf and blind community. In her 40s, without a college degree, Kikel-Lynn started a successful real estate brokerage (K Real Estate) and re-married. She and her brother created a nonprofit charity to help those with trauma, mental wellness and suicide awareness.
“The FMK Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit created in 2014 by my brother and me in
memory of both of our parents. Their names are Frank and Marlene Kikel (FMK). We’ve both
dealt with a lot of trauma since we were children and into our adult lives due to losing our parents. Therefore, this nonprofit has been a way for us to help heal personally and provide resources to others,” Kikel-Lynn said.
She has especially focused on young adults who, like her, have faced the issue of suicide as she did at their age. So, she created a support group called Yellow for Life.
“The name ‘Yellow for Life’ was created years later when my husband (Jason) and I were invited to speak at a class at the University of Utah on the topic of for-profit business versus nonprofit. We had several students who were touched by the topic of my nonprofit, and together, we created an on-campus student group for suicide awareness. The students came up with the name based on the suicide awareness national color of yellow; they designed the logo, maintained the website and social media for years, and created on-campus events,” she said.
Unlike in her past, she now encourages people to be more open about their mental health needs.
Kikel-Lynn said, “As a society, we need to openly talk about our past traumas and our triggers to focus on our overall mental health. What does this mean? We all have experiences from childhood, adulthood, and even the present that impact our thoughts and create triggers of how we react to daily life. We need to understand our path to know what resources we each need. For example, yoga, meditation and counseling might work for one person, but for another, they might need ketamine, mushroom therapy or other resources. The biggest issue is that most of these resources are hidden and not talked about openly.
“This all plays into suicide awareness and prevention because when we focus on our overall
personal mental wellness, we can get to a place that feels more balanced and in control rather than in a constant dark place where suicide becomes a potential option.”
If one knows about a friend or are they themselves contemplating suicide, she recommends immediate action.
“Your immediate resources are the Suicide Hotline 988 and finding a safe place—the emergency room or 911 if needed. The website 988lifeline.org has great resources also. My nonprofit also provides scholarship funding for suicide prevention training called QPR (QPRinstitute.com) which can be helpful if you’re interested in learning more about how to be trained in emergency response. This is the program that personally empowered me to share my story,” Kikel-Lynn said.
More information about the FMK Foundation and Yellow for Life organization can be found online at yellowforlife.org.