May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a woman from Boston has made it her mission to help people who are struggling.

Samantha Joseph was devastated when her aunt Gail died by suicide.

“She was a giant – everything she did really had magic.” she told 7NEWS. “Losing her to suicide was so painful.”

A publicist and comedy division manager who worked with the cast of “Friends” and “Will and Grace,” Gail Joseph was a titan in the comedy business and also very close to her niece when she died in Nov. 1999 at age 39.

For years, Samantha searched for answers.

“Really trying to piece together as much information as I could about what might have happened or how much pain she was in that we really didn’t understand,” she explained.

She said the journey to healing has been a long one and took her all across the U.S.

“The ‘why?’ haunted me for many years. It took me to California to meet her friends – to this situation where I was seeking out people who knew her, including some of the celebrities she worked with like David Schwimmer,” she described.

Joseph said her aunt had a special relationship with Schwimmer and she wanted to know more about the friendship they shared.

“He gave me the gift not only of talking about her, but of thanking me for the opportunity to remember her,” she recounted. “Those words really stayed with me, that it meant something to him.”

And through heartache, Joseph has found hope. She’s now the Chair of the Board of Directors at Samaritans Inc., an organization that provides lifesaving suicide prevention services in Massachusetts.

It also offers grief support services for people who know someone who died by suicide.

Joseph says it’s important that families and friends never blame themselves for the loss of a loved one.

“What Samaritans really tries to do is a pathway out of that guilt – a chance to say you did everything you could, you loved with your whole heart, and that’s not yours to hold any more,” she said.

Going forward, Joseph plans to keep fighting the stigma around suicide by telling her aunt’s story. And she encourages others to do the same.

“We’re all suffering alone because we’re afraid and there’s so much stigma around suicide and suicide loss that I think everyone of us can help do something, just a little something to help break that stigma by having those conversations,” she said.

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8. Help is available 24/7.

More information on Samaritans and the organization’s mission can be found here.

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