Vonnie Woodrick

Author, Podcast Host, Life Coach and a Social Change Agent

After the loss of her husband, Rob, in 2003, Vonnie Woodrick’s life was forever changed, as she was forced to live a life without her loving partner and the father of their three children. Feeling as if no one understood suicide, the effects mental illness can have, and the judgment attached, Vonnie set out to change attitudes and the conversation. These efforts led to the formation of i understand in 2014. One of Vonnie’s first initiatives was to create a petition to change the definition of suicide – updating the stigmatizing definition about intentionally taking one’s life to one about suicide’s role as a terminal side effect of mental illness. Under Vonnie’s leadership, i understand continues to advocate for open conversations, better resources for loss after suicide and a stigma free society.


After years of journaling following the death of her husband to depression, Vonnie was able to create the non-profit organization, i understand. This created a loyal following, who wanted to know more about Vonnie and her story. Vonnie’s book was created from the pages of her journal. It illustrates her journey that now allows her to say, “i understand.”

Life Coach

Always being a glass-half-full type of gal, Vonnie is a positive force for those who are going through challenging times. Her own life experiences of personal struggles, loss and grief give her ability to encourage others.

Podcast Host

Because each of us has our own story that can connect us with others, Vonnie has candid yet bold conversations that lead to shared understanding and, perhaps, healing.

Social Change Agent

Change is hard, but change can be good! Vonnie has a passion for changing the narrative surrounding mental/brain health and suicide. She has even created a petition to change the definition of suicide.

Podcast Host


A smile can turn a frown upside down when shared. We are all guilty of hiding pain to avoid hard conversations. Let’s open up and talk about what’s really going onbehind the smile.Most often, the brightest smiles come from those who have been hurt the most.  

Join me to gain insight into how/why we put on masks to get through dark or difficult times. My podcast is a safe place where people can share their pain and discuss how opening up, rather than hiding behind a smile, allows for growth and happiness.


Her book titled i understand: love, pain and healing after suicide, has been number three on Amazon on the subject. The book currently is being used as a resource for the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association Victim Service Unit Advocates. These advocates go into the homes of families who have just experienced the devastation of losing a loved one to suicide.

Vonnie is honored to include Mariel Hemingway as the writer for the foreword of her book. “Vonnie and Mariel’s passion for mental health/brain health awareness runs deepdue to the many parallels in their lives

Social Change Agent

Vonnie founded the non-profit organization i understand, which exemplifies her determination to reduce stigma and judgment surrounding mental health/brain health illnesses.

What We Believe

  1. i understand suicide is an effect of illness or pain
  2. i understand mental/brain health illnesses are treatable and preventable
  3. i understand stigma is the #1 reason why someone would not seek treatment for mental/brain illness; education and awareness are vital to saving and changing lives
  4. i understand reaching out to those who are suffering could save a life; let someone know you are available and treat them with respect and compassion
  5. i understand most people who are suicidal do not want to die; they want their pain to end
  6. i understand speaking out about suicide may empower others to share their stories
  7. i understand feelings of guilt are part of the grieving process on the way to finding peace and acceptance
  8. i understand those who die by suicide do make it to heaven

What people are saying about Vonnie