The Nathaniel Brady Memorial Foundation

The Nathaniel Brady Memorial Foundation, a donor-advised fund, provides financial contributions to nonprofits in the Greater St. Louis Missouri, Columbia Missouri and Greater Raleigh North Carolina areas leading programs benefiting area youth, adolescents, and young adults. Programs should be focused on the general mental health and wellbeing, safety or recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders. The goal of Nate’s Foundation is to assist adolescents and young adults to thrive into adulthood.

Nathan was the only child of a local single mother.  As a child he was happy and full of love and laughter. He loved to play games and tell jokes. He would always wake up with a smile on his face. He had a kind heart and was full of respect for those around him. People would comment that they never heard him cry.

As Nate grew into adolescence, he still loved to share his quick wit, and bring a smile to any face. However, he had started to lose some of his spirit. A camp director once commented that he believed Nate was a natural born leader, that the other kids listened and looked to him for direction. However, Nate shared privately that he thought he was depressed and had started to consider self-harming. Nate was 13 years old.

There were no viable solutions available for Nate’s family. The community was in silence about depression and self-harm, and there was a deep morass of stigma associated with mental illness.

In an act of desperation, she relocated herself, Nate and their family pet Lincoln from Raleigh to St. Louis. She had heard there were adolescent programs in St. Louis and was hopeful that Nate would learn some positive self-coping skills during his last year of high school before starting college. He was 17 years old at the time.

However, no real solution to Nate’s long-suffering depression and self-harming materialized for him. Nate refused treatment and the counselor provided absolutely zero resources for his mother — a knowing parent.

She continued to pray and seemed to get what she had been hoping for, a miracle. Nate made friends at his new school, joined a band. Nate had an excellent singing voice and a beautiful talent as a guitarist. Nate was on the homecoming court. He seemed happy and started smiling again.

As he finished high school and was off to the university, his mother was so proud of him. However, there was concern that as a young freshman he might get overwhelmed. The advice given Nate was this, “If you ever feel sad or feel like self-harming, go to the counseling office on campus”. There will be someone there to talk to. After all this is what they had told him during freshmen orientation and his campus visit.

Then came the call from a social worker at the University hospital. Apparently, Nate had taken what had seemed sound advice. He went to the counseling center, where they asked him to fill out a form. Nathan filled it out honestly, was he depressed? He answered yes. Was he thinking about self-harm? He answered yes. Had he considered killing himself? He answered yes. As Nate waited for someone to talk to. Someone that would listen and give him advice, two campus police officers showed up. They hand cuffed him and took him to the hospital for a 72-hour hold.

That was the last time Nate ever asked anyone for help. He never again felt comfortable saying “I’m not feeling right. I think I need help. Can I talk to you about it?”

Nathan continued at the university. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Health Science degree and a minor in Psychology in 2021. Nathan was starting his career as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist. He had completed a year of clinicals in Missouri’s hospitals and had been asked for directly by name and hired because of his academic accomplishments and clinical experience. He had learned excellent patient care. He was 24 years old.

Before Nate could start his employment as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist, he needed to complete his Missouri certified board exam. He had been studying all weekend. Nathaniel Brady was a highly educated accomplished graduate from one of the best universities in Missouri. He shared that he was very nervous about the exam. He was reassured that it was going to be just fine. He had already proven what a success he was. Everyone has anxiety sometimes. Everyone has depression sometimes.

The next day his mother found his body, his head hanging loosely in a tie from the closet bar in his room. The tie was not tight around his neck. It is unclear and always will be whether Nathan took his life deliberately or if he died during an act of non-suicidal self-harm. Either way he was in enough pain and distress to put his head in the loop that took his life.

As a 50-year-old single mother of one, having raised her child on her own, paid for him to get a 4-year degree plus 1 year of clinicals in Missouri’s medical university, where he learned excellent patient care. His mother was left wondering why he did not also learn excellent self-care as a repeating part of the core curriculum.

Nate’s story makes it clear that it is time to change. It is time for families to share their stories. It is time to provide young people the additional help they need to thrive into adulthood. Early identification and intervention, access to integrated care and treatment with recovery can be made accessible for young people’s future.

The future belongs to the children. Nate’s foundation has been created in hopes that an environment can be created where children, adolescents and young people can thrive into adulthood. A place where a child can be honest and say “I’m not feeling right. I think I need help. Can I talk to you about it?”, and our schools, educators, lawmakers and first responders listen. A place where it is safe to cry, a place where it is ok to ask for help because help really does exist.

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