Dr. Jen Ashton on healing herself and her family after her ex-husband's suicide

The ABC News chief medical correspondent discusses her experience in a new book, "Life After Suicide," in hopes of helping others heal after a similarly unthinkable tragedy.
8:19 | 05/08/19

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Transcript for Dr. Jen Ashton on healing herself and her family after her ex-husband's suicide
Suicide has completely turned my life upside down. I lost my 18-year-old brother to suicide in 2013. My oldest brother died of suicide in 1996. I found out Shane passed away by suicide four days before my wedding day. I lost my husband yesterday to suicide. When I was 9 years old, my father killed himself. My ex-husband, Dr. Rob Ashton Jr. Died by suicide February 11, 2017. I've driven over the bridge thousands of times in my life. Our apartment was on the 40th floor of that big building, just next to the George Washington bridge. In 2017, 15 people died by suicide, by jumping off the George Washington bridge. And rob was one of them. Rob and I met in the operating room. Just like "Grey's anatomy." Our first date was in greenwich village in 1995. It was Italian restaurant. When the world is cold Our wedding was really beautiful. We danced to a Frank Sinatra song "The way you look tonight." And the way you look tonight Everyone liked rob. Everyone. It was impossible not to like him. We were together for 22 years. We raised two amazing kids. But ultimately we grew apart and decided to end our marriage, and it was a mutual decision. When my parents told us that they were first seeing a counselor and then they were going to be getting a divorce, my brother and I were like okay, how different is it really going to be if dad's living across the street versus in our house. Rob didn't have any of the classic signs of depression that we learn about in medical school. Not a single one of them. We saw each other three days before he died at one of Chloe's hockey games. Yeah! Woo! Right before I went to bed I kind of took a deep breath, and I said wow, I feel so sad right now, and I have no clue why. That was a Saturday. And at about 10:30 in the morning, three detectives knocked on the door. The lead detective said we found your name on the remains of your and I just started screaming, no, no, no. I was in really bad shape for a few weeks. In every way. It wasn't until two weeks later that my brother actually said something that almost simplified the component of suicide. He said, dad died from a disease just like cancer. Somebody who loses their battle with depression and dies by suicide is not weak. It's not their fault. For as long as I can remember in this process, I've wanted my mom to speak openly about it. So when Kate spade died by suicide, I said mom, you have to talk about this. You have to talk about our experience. When it hit my family, as a doctor, I didn't know a lot about it. And the more we can deal with it the better, and the more lives will be saved. What I couldn't believe is that there were so many people who had been just gutted by suicide of a loved one and that felt that they had been ignored. One of the hardest things that I had to do after rob's death was clear out our storage unit. This was a storage bin that had stuff from our house that we lived in for 11 years. That was 2006. We were so young then. And I mean, rob looks so happy it was in these private moments and going through the remnants of our life together that I felt really alone. I realized I needed to use my voice to try to help others who were probably going through the same thing. I hope to get as much from the people in this room as I'm able to offer you. And I know you all know the statistics. For every one death by suicide there are at least 135 people directly affected. The reason I wanted to interview other suicide survivors is because I wanted to learn from them. As far as I can go Chester Bennington was known around the world for his iconic one thing you should know He was a grammy award winner for Lincoln park when he died by suicide in 2017. And everyone was shocked. For some reason people think because that person was famous or successful, how could they do this? But those things don't protect you against mental illness. Since his death, his wife, talinda Bennington has become an advocate fire mental health and suicide prevention. It's so important to me that Chester's death wasn't in vain. We have kids. They need to understand that daddy didn't go because he was selfish. Daddy didn't go because he didn't love them. Daddy died because he was really sick. The late Joan rivers also became an advocate after she lost her husband to suicide in 1987. Joan rivers. Then she dedicated her Emmy win in 1990 to his memory. This is really for him, because he was with me from the beginning, and I'm so sorry. In the years since, their daughter Melissa rivers has become an advocate herself in honor of her father. It is so important, and I know you can relate to that, that suicide and the survival of suicide and the survival of the people who attempt and don't make it through the process, the conversation has to become bigger, bigger, bigger, less it should be openly discussed. One thing I've learned on this journey, all of us whose lives have been touched by suicide were survivors. I decided to write a book called life after suicide to share my family's story of healing and those of many others that I've met along the way. I definitely wanted to include stories from certain high-risk groups and certainly veterans, lgbtq youth and young adults. How many people in the room are survivors? As I talk to people from each of these groups, survivors from each of these groups, what I realized is that the people who are left alive after suicide hits their family or their friends have found a way to heal that really, really inspired me. My brother was my best friend. Not a day goes by that I don't think about my brother Gabriel. When I think of Chester today, I remember him full of life and full of love. When talking to someone who's lost a loved one to suicide and what we call a suicide survivor, remember, they're fine. They're normal. Just be yourself. Tell them you care. Our thanks to Jen. And please remember, you are not alone. The national suicide prevention lifeline is always open at 800-273-8255 for free confidential assistance from trained counselors. And next, senator Cory

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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