Grace Foulk’s father had a troubled childhood, surrounded by addiction and mental illness. It was a cycle of intergenerational trauma that he wanted to break, but couldn’t. After a long battle with bipolar disorder and alcoholism, he died by suicide when she was in high school.
Foulk, now 19, said her dad felt pressure to pull himself up and “be a man,” a reflection of the stigma that he and many others have felt, and all too common in rural Montana. The state ranked among the highest in the country for excessive drinking and suicide mortality rates in 2018.
Foulk and her dad had been close, joined by their love of music and the outdoors, and his death sent her to what she calls “the deepest, darkest place I’ve ever been.” She considered taking her own life, but she had access to a new Community Health Worker program specializing in mental health in rural areas, and got connected to one of her town’s few therapists. “She helped me to deal with these traumas that I hadn’t been dealing with, that I didn’t even know I had,” Foulk said.
Foulk, who played her original song “What We’re Living For,” is now a musician like her dad, and hopes her family’s cycle of trauma ends with her. “I’m hellbent on being the chain-breaker, because it’s what my dad would have wanted.”
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