Corretta Doctor: On a Crusade to Educate on the Prevention of Suicide and Mental Health Awareness

JC Gardner
Photo Credit: Baumann Photography.
Corretta Doctor –  Photo Credit: Baumann Photography.

Listen to our interview with Corretta Doctor

There are those of us who are born to succeed, ingrained with a can-do attitude and a fierce determination to make it no matter how difficult the odds. To someone on the outside looking in, this person always has it together; they exude joy and confidence with a comfortable lifestyle and pleasant demeanor, ensuring their appearance is always on-point. Oftentimes, they may even be put on a pedestal, as others secretly wish they could be just like them. Many of these women are CEO’s, top religious leaders, widely known celebrities, and most are everyday women.

A depressed person or someone dealing with mental instability is very skilled at projecting a positive image, even though it is a daily struggle to hold it together. It is important to them that what the public sees does not reflect the desperation behind the smile. The pain of the past, the stress of the present, and the uncertainty of the future lay hidden between the folds of pretentious designer clothes, settling deep down into the seams, where the stitching starts to unravel.

Regardless of their socioeconomic status, mental health illness affects all people; however, all people do not treat the illness the same, especially in the African American community. Family members will ignore obvious warning signs, as their own pride and ignorance get in the way of seeking professional help. Then there are those individuals who know for themselves something is just not right; they fear being an outcast, so rather than get help, they just succumb to it, sometimes fatally.

Those of us who are grounded in Christian spirituality are very familiar with the “Turn it over to God and leave your burdens at the cross.” ” He won’t give you more than you can bear.” “Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

What happens when your circumstances outweigh your belief system? What are the consequences of suppressing verbal and physical abuse, sexual exploitation, adulterous affairs, and abandonment? Corretta Doctor knows this all too well.

She married young and had one daughter. From that union, her one and only daughter, the joy of her life, was born. Her marriage dissolved amidst embarrassment and shame. He was a military man, so she enlisted, too, as an escape to something better. Seemingly, she was running and searching, trying to find an answer for what she knew was the beginning of a molehill of stress that would eventually compound into a mountain of depression. This depression was hidden from the public.

For most of her adult life, she was very successful. But the sweet taste of success was marred by bitter herbs. Corretta dealt with trust issues all of her life; she trusted no one and doubted everything. Everything and everyone became her secret enemy. With a void in her life, only being filled with deep family lies and secrets, it was hard for her to believe in people outside of her circle when the people she depended on for truth — her family — consistently deceived her. She never let herself be truly free in living because she had faced horrendous acts of defeat, hurt, and pain.

Just a year into her marriage, she was nearly raped by a local business owner. He locked her in a freezer, intent on having his way with her; she was able to break free and get help. Then there was sexual abuse by an uncle that went on for years, which she kept a secret until recently, but secrets fester, and like thorny weeds, they multiply. There was more. A lot more.

Corretta suffered in silence; she used her outgoing personality and naturally pleasant disposition as a deflecting shield. She preferred to pretend everything was okay rather than admit that she was dying inside. Her work kept her busy, and she yearned to do more beyond working a government job. She really wanted to help people with their aspirations and dreams and jumped head-first into the world of entertainment. She was good at making connections and very adept at putting events together, using her negotiation skills to land celebrity clients and events. Along with her nephew, Maurice, she formed an international company. While it was extremely hard work, she was handsomely paid, more so by the success of her clients than actual financial gain.

Outwardly she was successful, but something was missing.  There was a gnawing inside, a feeling of being incomplete. Her mother died when she was young and as was common in those days, she was given to someone else to raise. She had a strong desire to learn about her real family, so she began to ask about her mother. Information was revealed in drips and drabs. The more she inquired, the more it became clear that a lot about her life was left unsaid – on purpose!  She decided to write a book about her life, and it would not only be therapeutic but also a way to discover just exactly who she was!

Be careful what you ask for! The truth came from the most unexpected place. The woman that Corretta had been grieving over for years and whom she missed every day was not her mother. The pictures she had posted that hung in her home as homage to her mother were all a fallacy. Corretta was faced with a new life at age 44 when a woman from within the family came forward and detailed a grueling explanation of how she, in fact, was Corretta’s birth Mother.

To make matters worse, the family did not accept Corretta and her Mother’s news with open arms, nor did they stake any claim with the deceit. Instead, they accused Corretta of ruining their “happy home” and “stable” environment. Somehow they had convinced themselves to lay any blame at Corretta’s feet.  It was not pretty.

For all of her successes, triumphs, and accomplishments, this was too much to bear.  When you’re used to putting band-aids on your wounds, soon you are a patchwork of plastic, an inconsequential mannequin – no soul, no spirit, and no heart. Your identity becomes a mystery, even to yourself.

For Corretta, it began to fall apart. Depressed people cannot always see through their clouded view of life and turn quickly to end it all. They turn to suicide ideology, as it seems like the only way out.

She attempted suicide after months of contemplation.  The pain was so great and so unbearable she ended up in the psych ward from a suicide attempt – not one attempt but three!

But she was saved!  By the grace of God, some committed and caring doctors, her daughter’s love, and through the support of a few friends and family, she was able to find a reason to hold on. Tarrell’s presence on the day Corretta almost ended her life is what saved her life.

Every moment is still a struggle, but every day is also a gift. Corretta now knows that her journey can be used to bless and save someone else.  Her book is still underway, as there is so much more to share, but more importantly, she has been transformed! Follow Corretta as she continues to heal, share her story, and impart knowledge about suicide awareness and prevention. Corretta’s website address is, and her Publicist is The A-List Agency. Email

                                                                        -Written By JC Gardner

JC Gardner is a professional writer and coach from Maryland. She is a published author and accomplished businesswoman. JC Gardner is the Project Manager and contributing writer for Corretta Doctor’s upcoming new release. Learn more about JC at


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