She was beautiful,” says Helen “Honey” Beuf ’78 in describing her daughter Olivia Ann Kunik, whom everyone called Liv. “She was extraordinarily compassionate, with many types of friends, always willing to care for anyone who was struggling.”
Although she often appeared happy, Liv had long-term struggles with anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and suicidal thoughts. In 2019, Liv died by suicide.
“When Liv passed away, we felt it was really important to be open about the fact that she had died by suicide,” recalls Honey. “We opened up our home to her friends. Seeing how her death impacted all of them opened our eyes to the fact that we were not the only ones who were grieving.”
Of course, the grief was especially intensive for Honey and her other daughter, Tess, Liv’s older sister. They decided to turn their grief into action. Working with a good friend who is a movie producer, Tess and Honey made the decision to produce a documentary film called My Sister Liv. In making the film, Honey says she became aware of unmet needs in terms of what kids were hearing and learning about suicide prevention and mental health. So, she and Tess commissioned the creation of a card game called “The Game That Goes There,” which they developed with input from a Youth Advisory Board and vetted for safety with therapists at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
“The design of the game signifies the monsters—the dark thoughts—that all of us have in our heads,” says Honey. “It lets people know that they are not the only ones who have those feelings. In this way, playing the game organically creates empathy and compassion for anyone who is struggling.”
Today, Honey serves as Executive Director of The Liv Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides programs and tools to support open and honest conversations around mental health and suicide prevention. “What I am doing brings me purpose and hope,” says Honey. “Shortly before her death, Liv told me that she wanted to become a therapist so that she could help other kids who are struggling. It was really important to me that we are carrying on her desire to help others. In this way, hopefully we can prevent some of these kids from dying.”
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.