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HelpGuide is dedicated to Morgan Leslie Segal, who died by suicide in 1996 at the age of 29. Described as “a rare and beautiful soul,” “a rising talented writer,” and “a young woman with great intelligence and sensitivity,” Morgan nevertheless grappled with a condition that started as low self-esteem and worsened into major depression. Six years of therapy and a variety of drug prescriptions did not help her.
Following Morgan’s death, her parents Robert and Jeanne Segal began sharing their grief and discovered that all too many others had experienced similar struggles. “The pain was so evident,” said Robert, “the subject so frightening, hidden, and loaded with stigma, that they don’t know where to turn.” They concluded that the best way to honor the memory of their daughter was by helping people in similar trouble by guiding them toward appropriate information and care.
And so HelpGuide was born.
The site was launched in 1999 by Robert and Jeanne Segal, Monika White, and the Rotary Club of Santa Monica. In the ensuing 20 years, HelpGuide has grown from a small local project to an internationally recognized mental health and wellness website that reaches over 50 million people a year—all with no advertising of any kind.
And through it all, our mission has remained the same: to provide empowering, evidence-based information that you can use to help yourself and your loved ones.
We firmly believe that no matter what you’re going through, no matter how bad you feel—there’s hope. You are not powerless in the face of mental illness and other life challenges. Our goal is to be a trusted resource you can turn to whenever you need guidance and support.
Leslie Segal was a middle child—the peacemaker. She was quiet and gentle, with compassion that encompassed anyone and anything that was troubled or hurting. In high school, she first found her voice as a writer for the school paper and yearbook staff. In her college years, she fell in love with the Spanish language and traveled to Washington, DC as an intern for the Latino Congressional Caucus.
She visited a dozen countries with the Semester at Sea program. A year later, traveling with a friend, she backpacked through Eastern Europe indulging her talent as a photographer, taking intimate, detailed, and revealing photos of young and old alike.
In her mid-twenties, the life that was soaring began to falter. She changed her name to Morgan, “woman of the sea.” She almost completed a graduate psychology program, but decided she preferred writing and left to attend Sarah Lawrence College. Later, she was accepted into a master’s program in creative writing at the University of Southern California, where she became a feature writer for the Daily Trojan and the literary magazine Rapport.
Though Morgan continued to grow as a writer, she increasingly lost touch with herself and retreated from those who loved her. She died by suicide shortly after her 29th birthday.
Read All the Lonely People, the Los Angeles Times tribute to Morgan
After Morgan’s death, Robert and Jeanne found her laptop computer containing a collection of her stories and poems. This led to the publication of Morgan’s Voice.
Her poem “One” was written very close to the time of her death.
“. . . She wrote whimsy as well as she wrote tense and somber drama, reflecting elements of herself, as a writer must, in such a way as to reveal both the light and the shadows that alternately brightened and darkened her soul. In this wonderful book her genius emerges in careful stages and we are at one with a soaring talent which, like a bird in flight, fell too soon to the earth below.”
~ Al Martinez, Columnist,
Los Angeles Times
The wind snaps at my cheeks as I walk from my car.
A young woman sleeps on a bench,
her hair, long and knotted, spilling onto the sidewalk,
The ends, split and forked, forming a tributary —
two rivers that lead to nowhere.
A bus casts a shadow over her —
her features disappear into the darkness.
I walk past her
Telling myself that I am different.
My hand trails the railing of the doctor’s office,
the paint is worn and chipped;
How long have I been coming here?
At the top of the steps I catch my reflection in the glass —
I look away, into the room, at a painting —
a sea-scape, waves tumbling and crashing, break-tides
overflowing onto the shore.
The door to the second room opens,
the doctor ushers me in.
I sit and stare at my knees,
thin and bony
I don’t have anything to say.
The doctor’s eyes look through me —
I think of the woman lying on the bench
her pupils constricting in the sun —
I tell the doctor that I am no different.
Bands of sunlight filter through the blinds,
the doctor says we are all the same.
I think of a meadow of sunflowers
their necks arching in the wind.
I touch a strand of my hair —
the end breaks off onto my palm,
The woman on the bench is gone.