Collins spoke Thursday at a conference called "Saving Tomorrows Today" where about 50 people from across the state gathered to discuss North Carolina's first plan to prevent youth suicide.
She sang several stanzas from "Send in the Clowns" before discussing her son Clark's death in January 1992 at the age of 33. She is the author of "Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival and Strength."
"His death has been a catalyst," Collins said. "It has been about breaking open the secrets that have been in this family."
She acknowledged his struggles with depression and addiction, but she also remembers his love of music and for his daughter.
As a gifted child musician with a Type-A personality, Collins said she once tried to remove herself from this planet by overdosing on pills. She was 14 and at the ironing board when the demands of her father seemed overwhelming.
Her father wrote her a letter apologizing, but her suicide attempt was not discussed otherwise.