My Son, My Hero: From Tragedy to Hope and Inspiration

My Son, My Hero: From Tragedy to Hope and Inspiration

Dr. Piparo is an Internationally-Best-selling author, sought-after speaker, award-winning researcher, as well as a Health and Performance Psychologist.  His clients include athletes and business professionals afflicted with performance anxiety, students suffering from test anxiety, and anyone struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or trauma in their daily life.

*The image featured on the right is Dr. Piparo's son, Tony John. 

Over the past 25+ years, Dr. Piparo has literally helped thousands of people overcome the adverse effects of stress and anxiety on their health, productivity, and quality of life.  His credentials include:

  •         MS in Education – specializing in Learning Theory
  •         MS in Kinesiology (Study of Human Movement)
  •         PhD in Performance Psychology

Among his many research awards, Dr. Piparo earned the 1992 American Psychological Association’s Dissertation of the Year honors for his work on concentration and performance in sport.

In addition to his academic training, Dr. Piparo also has specialized training in NLP, Trauma Release Therapy, and Brain GymTM.

Tony also serves on the Steering Committee for Prevent Suicide of Greater Milwaukee and is a Collective Impact Parent Partner for the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health.

Please share a bit about your experience with suicide.

In March of 2017, after a long battle with depression, that started when he was eight years old, I lost my son, Tony John to suicide.

How do you cultivate community, especially when you feel alone and/or isolated

For me, it’s all about service.  I know that my son would never have wanted me to suffer because of his decision to end his life.  That’s not who he was or the way he lived his life.  He did everything he could to make life easier for others and to spread unconditional love.  So, to suffer after his death would have meant to dishonor his memory and what he stood for.  However, just trying to suppress, repress, or ignore my feelings would have just created long-term physical and mental health problems for me.  Instead, I sought out organizations dedicated to suicide prevention and improving mental health.  I know that’s what my son would have wanted me to do.

Today, I serve on the steering committee for Prevent Suicide of Greater Milwaukee and as a Collective Impact Parent Partner for the Executive Council of the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health.  I have also written books in honor of my son from research I conducted after his death, both of which have become best-sellers, and speak to as many groups and organizations as I can.  Finally, I’ve been trained as a QPR specialist to train others in recognizing the signs and preventing potential suicides.

What gets in the way of wellness, your healing, and/or recovery?

I can tell you what would have gotten in my way of healing and recovery.  Thinking that life ends with the physical death of the body and no longer being able to see him, hear his voice, or feel his body. However, while it was difficult at first and less difficult two years later, my belief and the new science of Quantum Physics prove that the soul exist and lives on.  Instead, when I start to feel pain from his loss, I remind myself how grateful I am that he chose me to be his father.  Of all the men available at the time, he chose me.  I then remember one or more of the many wonderful experiences we got to share when he was alive and the many things he accomplished during his life.  This allows me to see his face, hear his voice and feel his body as we hugged, all through the power of my imagination.  As a day hasn’t gone by without me thinking of him, these things are permanently etched in my mind and heart.

How did you find what works for you?

At the time of my son’s suicide, I had been studying the tenets of Science of mind as founded by Ernest Holmes over 100 years ago as well as the science of Quantum Physics, which came into being with the work of Albert Einstein and others not much later.  Science of mind is a spiritual approach to life that defines consciousness and reality in very different terms than what we are accustomed to.  It combines what we understand from our biblical teachings with that of the Upanishads.  Quantum Physics brings to life what we believe and actually prove many of those beliefs.  Together, belief and science have helped me understand consciousness and life in ways that are beneficial and allow me to interpret my experiences in ways that bring me peace, harmony, and joy into my life, regardless of the vagaries of the world, including the suicidal death of my son.

What does support or connection look like to you?

I want people in my life who are willing to reminisce with me about how beautiful, talented, and amazing my son was and to feel grateful that he brought so much love into the lives of everyone he met.  I do not want him remembered as someone who took his life, but all he contributed to the betterment of humanity.  I do not want people who feel sorry for me because he is no longer with me or tell me of all the things I will miss because he is no longer alive.  I also want people to stop me if I go on about his death or talk about my loss.  I want there to be a shared uplifting.  This is what my son would have wanted.

Freedom from Depression: 6 Keys to Eliminating Emotional Pain

“Regardless of all the risks factors associated with depression, two forces are prevalent in every sufferer’s experience, an overactive fight-or-flight reflex and a runaway Negative Programming Cycle that, together decimate self-esteem that spirals down into feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and unworthiness, ultimately resulting in a deep, dark depression.  While we may not be able to do anything about the risk factors involved in depression, there are tools and training available that can intercede in the fight-or-flight reflex and Negative Programming Cycle that, in time and with practice can return those suffering from depression back to a state of mental wellness.”

My Son, My Hero:  From Tragedy to Hope and Inspiration

“Regrets and blame, shame, and guilt are normal reactions to the loss of a child to suicide.  While it may not be easy, learning to forgive ourselves and others and be grateful for all the wonderful things we have experienced in life will help us heal from our tragic loss.  Forgiveness and gratitude were both extolled in Jesus’s teachings.  They have also been proven by science to alter the structures, chemistry, and functions of our brains so that we experience life with love, joy, and abundance, instead of grief, pain, and loss.”