Suicide & Reaching Out to Community

I don’t now how to start this post. Every way I’ve started feels insignificant, too emotional, or lacking compassion. Yesterday was an emotional day – good, bad, awesome, and gut wrenching.

I started my day overcome by anxiety, and it’s been building for weeks, maybe more. Post Denver Startup Week is always a challenging time energetically. The week in all it’s splendor – Speaking, capturing Founder stories, networking, giving to the community, catching up with friends – is exhilarating and yet absolutely exhausting when it’s all said and done.  This year as Impact Founder is growing we added another speaking event two weeks after DSW, the Global Accelerator Network’s Rally. Powerful, yet energetically depleting for me. I am just now coming out of the fog and reincorporating the things in my life that give back to me – plans with friends, exercise, down time and generally allowing myself forgiveness for not being perfect.

When I woke up I was overcome with how I would be able to keep growing impact founder and be able to pay my bills. Impact Founder is completely bootstrapped, and at times I find those funds lacking in what we need for growth, let alone to pay my own cost of living. I know that’s not my experience alone and that other founders experience that fear, frustration, anxiety.

When I feel like this, I reach out for help. I spent the day reaching out to my Impact Founder community. I tested what we are building, I tested my theory, and after a day of phone calls and in person meetings I am back on track – for the most part.

What does that mean? I reached out for emotional, financial, and professional support from my (Impact Founder) network  built over the past year and found myself in a much better place. 

By 5pm I was in a place where I was out of my funk enough to attend an event in Boulder called Up on the High Wire: Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Entrepreneurs. In the audience were leaders in the Boulder/Denver community on mental health and entrepreneurship. The event was compelling, emotional and we created action to take as a community about how we can broaden the conversation among entrepreneurs about “mental health”.

During the event, I received terrible news that a couple from Arvada, Colorado took their lives by suicide.


Kevin & Karen Johansen

From Greg Berry: local in Boulder. “I am in total shock.  A friend and business partner, Kevin Johansen, along with his wife, Karen, took his life last week.  I still can’t believe it’s true, even though his son and sister have posted about it online.  I’ve known Kevin for 20 years, and we spoke every 3-6 months, if not every day, when we were working together.”

It  broke my heart and I felt numb emotionally and took action. I immediately sent an email to Brad Feld – as I know he’s alongside many of us, championing the conversation of mental health and entrepreneurship as a leader in the community. His posts about his personal experiences with depression are a huge contribution to what began the discussion on mental health and entrepreneurship.  Brad replied immediately and this morning he sent a link to a blog post he wrote on his experience receiving the news.

That’s when I felt the emotion I was holding onto about it, and am still feeling gutted.  I only knew Kevin in passing, but it was enough to feel the impact and want to support his family. His son  is trying to organize $2500 to support the expenses associated with his parents’ passing on GoFundMe.  As Greg said, “I hope we can blow that out of the water.”

I am left with wondering how we can shift this paradigm – please if you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, reach out to loved ones and/or the suicide prevention hotline  (Call 1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours everyday). They are incredible – so well trained and helpful. They are able to be there for you if you feel alone.

If you have a story to tell, please send us an email. We are committed to shifting the paradigm and expanding the network of Founders who are sharing their stories so that you don’t have to feel alone or isolated and that you have a community of support.

K. Darga, Founder – Impact Founder



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