CENTRAL ILLINOIS, (WCIA) — Amanda Hurt of Decatur lost her cousin to suicide. She said he was a sports-loving father of three children. She said he posted the lyrics of a Linkin Park song before he took his own life.
She said she would never forget that terrible day, “I remember the day like a bad dream. I was pulling into work, and my mom called, and her first words were, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this.’ I had just talked to him the weekend before; no signs.” She found out as she pulled into work. “I tried to go in [to work], but I hung up and sat silently [in my car].” He was 28.
She said there is one element of this that gives her peace. “One positive came… that some of his organs were able to be donated. His eyes and a lot of veins and arteries and tissues.”
His death has changed her. “His suicide has changed me after it made me very, very angry. I honestly never thought I would forgive him, but I have, but I miss him so so much,” adding, “I miss him terribly every day especially on the bad ones when I just need someone who’s on my side and has always protected me (he was 6’2 about 320 pounds pure muscle) just to be there.”
She also hurts for his family. “I hurt for his kids, especially the youngest one who was not even eight months old, so he will never know his dad.”
The death happened in the summer, and his wife found him early in the morning. “His wife found him. Usually, their daughter goes out to start the car in the mornings. Luckily this day, she had stayed with friends overnight. The oldest boy usually let the dog out but had gotten in the bathtub with his little brother.” Adding his wife then, “went to start the car to get it cooled off and found him. She took the kids out the front door to the neighbors. They asked why she screamed. She told them she had seen a lizard.”
The CDC reports that someone dies by suicide every 11 minutes. In 2020, the CDC reported that 47,979 people died by suicide. 12.2 million adults seriously considered it. 3.2 million adults made plans to complete suicide and 1.2 million adults attempted suicide.
Jane Doe’s sister died by suicide three weeks ago. (WCIA agreed to alter her name per her request). The Decatur woman said her sister struggled with depression, paranoia, hallucinations, and anxiety. She is unsure if she ever got help, but said their relationship was affected by it.
“On Wednesday, August 10, my mom called me at my job that I had just started two days ago and said my sister is dead. Please get there quickly,” said Doe.
She said she had hung out with her three days before her death. “I’ve never had anyone in my immediate life die that wasn’t given a warning or had health problems or older. Some days I’m okay, and other days I barely have the energy to brush my teeth or get out of bed. I’ve felt numb and empty for a while. Today was another angry day. I quit my job because I couldn’t try to learn a job my mental state wouldn’t allow me.”
She said she is not sure if she would be the same again. “I know I’ll never understand why she did what she did, but today I’m angry at her, but I know she was in a different state of mind.”
Jamie VanDeventer of Dalton City lost her aunt to suicide when she was young. “She was a super loving person but had a very dark side she hid from everyone,” she said. “It was like her to sleep for days at a time.” Her aunt had planned it out with letters. Her mother found her on the floor of her apartment.
“I was so angry at the fact I did everything, and she hid it from me. I now know people can hide their darkness from everyone if they want. I just hate the fact that someone would put their family through that.”
Autumn Starr of Blue Mound suffers from suicidal ideation and has attempted three times. She said she is open about it. “I talk about my attempts and mental health a lot to help people know it’s okay to struggle, it’s okay to get help. This is 2022. What our parents went through is not okay. We need to get the stigma out of people’s heads that it makes them weak, or less than.”
When Starr was 14, she attempted and was hospitalized. Afterward, she said her parents made her go to “Pentecostal Therapy,” which worsened things. She tried again at 17 and said in 2020, an antidepressant backfired, and she checked herself into the hospital.
“Mental health plays a role in every avenue of life. It takes maybe one talk to make someone get the help they need. I think we need to keep that train of thought going.” As for being open, “I didn’t use to be, but man, we need to be more dedicated to making the stigma go away and have people get help.” said Starr.
Shelley Frye, a school social worker from Cerro Gordo, said she feels anxiety and depression are huge problems. “More and more children are struggling with this. We see a lot of kids that do not have self-regulation skills.”
“Instead of calling 911, call 988 for suicide. It is a National Crisis Hotline specifically set up for such,” said Frye.
Warning signs that someone may be at immediate risk for attempting suicide include: threatening to take their life, talking about death, giving items away, stating they feel like they are a burden to others, making a will, and taking risks they usually may not do, loss of a job, divorce, death in the family, and someone close to them has died by suicide.
If you are in a state of crisis, advocates say do not hesitate to call a hotline. There are several. A few are listed below:
- 988 is the National line created this summer
- 211 is the number for people in crisis that need emergency referrals
- Spanish: 1-888-628-9454
- Veteran Crisis line 988/1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or you can text 838255
- Text HOME to 741-741
- Trevor Project line: 1-866-488-7386, text START to 678-678
- Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860