173: Survivors of Suicide Loss (Sort Of)

We are exploring the difficult topic of what it’s like to be a survivor of suicide loss. We have Austin on to help us explore the challenges of navigating life after losing someone you love to suicide. We talk about the grief, the ways recovery helped, other things that have helped, and ways to try to assist when we see someone struggling. Listen in as we explore this tough topic.

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Email: RecoverySortOf@gmail.com

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or Fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature [Music]

welcome back it’s recovery sort of I’m Jason a guy that is not going to have any joke right here and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery and today we have with us Austin hi Austin hi Austin hey how’s it going it’s going all right man and uh Austin’s going to help us explore the topic-ish of what it’s like to um have a death by suicide in your life experience I guess is maybe a way I could lay it out that doesn’t feel [ __ ] incredibly terrible I don’t know I don’t know man yeah yeah let me just put the microphone in front of you Austin and you can go ahead and do some talking yeah so um I think the the correct term would be a survive Survivor uh Survivor uh I don’t know Survivor of suicide Survivor of you I don’t know something something like that you know like um I had a family member uh die by Suicide right right and and that’s yeah and I mean and I think what we’re acknowledging right now just in the first couple minutes of this is how difficult it is to even try to figure out right like the right words or the right ways to talk about such an important and painful and hurtful topic and uh you know I guess from Billy and my side we’ll we’ll do our best we are not the experts in politically correct terminology or even in uh couth at times but you know we will we will do our best to try to like honor this topic and uh but yeah I think Austin you’re here you’re probably much more the expert than us why don’t you go ahead and tell us a little bit about your story uh why you’re here to talk about this topic what feels relevant for you to share yeah so uh once again you know my name’s Austin um in uh August 3rd of 2020 my sister uh died by Suicide uh we’re both addicts luckily I’m in recovery uh I celebrated five years this month congratulations thank you um and so whenever she died by Suicide she uh she so this might be a little graphic fair warning she decided to shoot herself in front of her husband uh she had a went through a lot of domestic violence with her uh relationship with her husband um we witnessed a lot of that growing up see and that’s kind of the weird thing like you know they say that like a lot of times we go we seek out people that are kind of like our parents right and so like obviously she kind of found somebody that was like my dad like pretty abusive pretty pretty uh um yeah she just witnessed a lot of domestic violence growing up and um the biggest thing with her is I think she just wanted to be loved right she just wanted to be loved and she wasn’t getting that from her relationship with her husband and uh she started using again you know she was she was fine whenever she was clean and or maybe not fine but she was stable right and that’s another part of it is uh she was also diagnosed with depression anxiety bipolar disorder so uh mental health played into it a lot for me the biggest thing I could say is that like I’m grateful for where I was in my recovery because I don’t know if I would have been able to handle that without using you know uh if I didn’t have such a solid solid recovery because I’m also in the program Narcotics Anonymous I do a lot with uh I do a lot with our our fellowship up here uh I’m located in Wyoming which to put into some perspective right uh Wyoming’s almost the same population as Baltimore for the whole state and it’s a much bigger State I believe yeah yeah for you know one City compared to the whole state right is it is it true that there’s more sheep in Wyoming than people probably yeah I could see it a lot more animals in general yeah and and I don’t want to get us completely off topic Austin but I’m just personally interested I know Billy has talked about his travels out west into like more sparse populations and how hard it is to find meetings and get to meetings can you talk just a little bit about like what the state of 12-step looks like in Wyoming compared to like maybe a more Metropolis area yeah actually I can so um my wife and I got out of treatment we actually moved to the after treatment she went to treatment in the southwest corner of the state I went to Montana once we got out we decided to make that location change right so we decided to move uh stay down there in the southwest corner when I got there na was basically non-existent like people were just going there to sign each other’s papers um there was actually our hookup or you know sell dope you know like it just was very toxic that’s disgusting what town is that right yeah uh so that didn’t last long right that meeting obviously didn’t last super long which I’m grateful for because it wasn’t a meeting right uh and so we decided to start a meeting down there and uh yeah to this day it’s still going strong you know um we moved back to my hometown in the northeast corner of the state and uh there’s some solid solid recovery up here there was a solid meeting that’s been around since uh 2014. but along with that comes you know like uh the politics and the ups and downs and the resentments and and everything else that goes you know personalities uh before principles was happening a lot right and so um we decided to to just give people another Avenue and start another group so like the the southwest corner of the state in our area we had to travel basically a hundred miles in any direction to hit another meeting yeah and so uh it’s very spread out um it’s becoming more common right more groups are popping up um littler towns and and uh we try to support them you know we try to travel and visit various groups throughout our throughout our region uh you know I’m I’m involved in the region pretty heavily um yeah I don’t know so like our bigger our bigger cities right which still wouldn’t be considered a big city right like Casper Wyoming is our second largest city with 50 000 people and they have between like four and six different groups down there you know so such a different picture than than like you said the meeting’s been established and going strong since 2014 and I was like man so many meetings in Baltimore from like the early 80s or at least early mid 90s right like it’s so much more established and I think and and I don’t know now last time I heard somebody say it it was like 543 meetings a week in our Baltimore area

32 or 33 groups just in this area which is just two counties and we’re a rural right right and he’s talking about an area that there’s like four or five meetings a week you know what I mean or groups like that’s just such a drastic difference in in level of like what it looks like I’m sure it’s a difference in how it feels for your recovery I’m sure it’s a difference in like what’s available to access like you said there’s a lot of personalities and if you’re in a smaller area there’s not maybe as many personalities you might be the only different personality do you know so like that’s I don’t know I imagine that’s a really different level of support as you’re going through some of the tougher things in your life yeah so I just counted right and so like there’s 21 uh 21 pounds in cities in the state that have meetings for the whole state wow that’s incredible and uh I mean once again that’s very spread out right and uh we do have meetings too in other places you know Evanston Wyoming uh they’ve had their meetings established since like the 80s but I’ll also like you get that personality right um evanston’s got like a little over 10 000 people and due to resentments and and whatever you know they also have like four groups in that little town you know or does that means it’s a little different but yeah like you said you know like I’ve been to big cities I’ve worked in oilfield uh basically from New Mexico to North Dakota uh I went to the world convention in 2018 down in Orlando you know like I’ve been all over hit meetings all over and so it is it is a lot different you know how do you handle the like suggestions of like 90 meetings in 90 days for newcomers and things like that they don’t suggest and do well it’s in the basic text but is it yeah and uh it works how y chapter I mean uh what can I do chapter uh and like do you feel like that is maybe uh uh I don’t know that limited access is like a barrier or maybe was a hurdle that was maybe hard for you and your sister to overcome well not for you you’ve obviously done it but for her right yeah so I think it was um you know she’s also a violent offender she went to prison for oh so my sister’s a little crazy okay right she went to prison for intimidation of a witness um she beat up a confidential informant put a gun to her head all sorts of stuff like this and so you see you know when I was in early recovery she was actually that was the first time she went to treatment and I got a um travel and and go to the treatment facility and do her family family days with her and kind of cash out some of our our trauma and our resentments and and stuff like that but the thing about it is like she knew where to find recovery you know she just wasn’t and um as far as uh what you said about 90 meetings in 90 days like yeah certain places like uh here in Gillette we have at least one meeting every day sometimes too so it’s easy for you to do it here right other places not so much the one benefit of the pandemic has been the zoom platform right now there’s really no excuse like you can hit a meeting at any time of any day via Zoom but before that yeah it was really really difficult to uh hit 90 and 90 around here you know that’s so crazy that that’s actually in the literature when that book was written so long ago when there wasn’t I mean there was barely a meet in a day in bigger cities at that point in time I’m shocked does it say 90 and 90 days it has a meeting a day for your first 90 days it sounds worded yeah that’s crazy yeah that’s so wild that it’s in there I guess what I was thinking uh Austin about the difference in how it looks is I’m picturing in Baltimore city right you have three years clean this tragic event happens in your life and the way I would picture that people would tell you to seek support would be to be in a meeting every day or maybe even multiple meetings a day right it would be like this is where you should be and how you should seek support and I imagine in an area like yours that might look a whole lot different that might look like a lot more outside of meeting support right that might be like the people in your network showing up every day for a coffee with you or to sit with you for a while it might not necessarily be like oh hey you should be in a meeting every day if that’s not even what’s available or what it looks like in your area yeah so like during the during the event right I was still living in the southwest corner of the state uh I only came up to visit my family because it’s a six hour drive one way and is that your sister was where your hometown was you said and that was it Northeast yeah yeah she was in the northeast corner I was in the southwest corner um so I only came to visit my family maybe two or three times a year because I hated that drive right round trip 12 hours and so I leaned on the program really heavily and good thing that like every time that I did come home I went to meetings and I established some uh some relationships with some of the people in the program up here because whenever uh like when it after it happened you know like uh n a showed up for me it really did you know I had people from from the program up here that didn’t even know my sister that came to the funeral just to support me you know and so that was one thing you know it’s kind of like you know kind of like that saying you know like no matter where no matter where you go there you are right like if I go seeking uh seeking out substances I’ll find them if I go seeking recovery I can find it I might have to look a little harder but um and instead instead of uh getting the dope man’s number from all over you know I was uh getting uh people that were in the program’s number right and so that was another thing so like after her funeral and they did the Memorial afterward they had it at a bar but you know and uh I stayed for about an hour until people started to get drunk and I was like all right I don’t like this piece out I’m going to a meeting you know right and it was it was kind of funny too because I got a friend and he was like oh look at you going to do something positive for yourself well I’m over here drowning my sorrows you know and like it’s just you know I have better coping skills today I have better tools you know that don’t involve nothing that I nothing that can happen to me today the solution would be to use right right I’ve never that’s never the solution for me um to kind of get back you know on to the the subject right Wyoming has I got some statistics right here so Wyoming has the number one uh the highest suicide rate in the nation per capita in my County uh in 2020 and this is a county like 4 500 or 45 000 people we had uh 21 suicides uh in 20 uh or 2022 yeah in 2022 21 suicides Wyoming is a total for 2022 had 155 suicides nationally in 2020 that was the most recent statistics I could find a per the CDC website was 45 979 people died by Suicide so to put that in perspective you know for the nation that would be my whole County that’d be everybody in my County you know plus some and so one thing that we need to start doing a little bit better of a job at is like normalizing uh therapy right I’m a big advocate for therapy and uh like growing up you know it was kind of hard people always like my dad was like you don’t cry I’ll give you something to cry about you know like we don’t show emotions especially as men it’s uh it’s got that stigma still attached to it a lot yeah absolutely and so so breaking that stigma is is one thing that I think uh really needs to to get done it’s kind of like we’re finally seeing the the stigma being broken of of addicts in in recovery right especially with over you know 100 000 or overdose deaths in the nation like that’s unreal right and so now that uh treatment and Recovery is becoming more uh more prevalent and uh more accepted you know I think we need to do that with with mental health as well yeah now is Wyoming so we’re in Maryland and Baltimore city is a more Progressive City but where we’re at is like a rural County and it’s quite conservative so a lot of the views on addiction and mental health for that matter are probably 20 years behind where they should be um or where we’d like to see them I mean we have a lack of resources available within the county for both mental health and substance use how is it in Wyoming are they any more Progressive less Progressive [Music] um we are like the red estate whenever it comes to that you know we are uh red-blooded Americans around here so to say it’s very conservative it’s is it like very Christian based I know some of like Kansas and and those areas are way more Christian

it’s interesting that Wyoming has the highest rate of suicide per capita and then is the reddest conservativist state is there a correlation there or causation yeah you know I think that’s I think that’s a big thing is lack of resources right okay so like in 2014 when I was trying to get clean on my own like you know I’m a ib heroin addict I knew I was gonna die like I was in really rough shape uh I went into a treatment Outpatient Treatment Facility was going to like IOP uh intensive outpatient I was doing counseling but I was still using and so that was how I like I kind of coped with it you know try to try to better myself while I waited to get into a treatment facility right well it was I was like 60 to 90 days out waiting on a bed right waiting on a bad date there’s like five treatment facilities six maybe for the whole state I don’t know lack of resources is definitely one of the biggest things too and that was like a big thing too like 2020 um with the pandemic and with everything that went on uh they cut a lot of resources right they cut a lot of funding for for mental health resources which I thought was one of the stupidest things they could have done yeah because people are people are locked away in their house they’re more likely to be uh abusing substances like it had a very traumatic effect on people’s uh well-being and mental health right and so for them to cut funding I was just I was mind-blown right and so like that too could go back to what Jason was saying like being more conservative they might not have thought it was relevant you know it’s interesting I mean I just trying to think of the ideals that could possibly play into something like that and I’m not trying to like pick apart conservative minded people or liberal-minded people but just this idea that like the general feeling of conservatism is like we want smaller government less interference less people intruding in our life and telling us what to do we want to just kind of take care of it ourselves and I I don’t that’s not a dare a terrible thing in and of itself right I don’t disagree with that point of view and yet when there’s no oversight or no other outside not to say that government’s the right people but if there’s not even Community looking into our windows and saying oh maybe this isn’t a very great condition in this house like if we’re all just not monitored or not connected like I guess what I’m trying to say is when when you were conservative and wanted less government and there was a small community around you and you guys supported each other and like were there to kind of call each other out if things weren’t looking right that’s one thing but in 2023 when everybody just kind of doesn’t leave their house and doesn’t talk to their neighbors that version of conservatism and lower you know lower oversight looks a lot more like [  ] dangerous situation for kids yeah yeah no I I absolutely agree um I think with with the amount of suicides we’ve had with the amount of suicide attempts with the amount of calls that law enforcement goes out on uh whether it be with someone uh you know suffering a mental health episode all the substance abuse that we have around you know I think they’re finally starting to realize that yeah like we need more resources but it’s still hard because we do have um some people that are just kind of old school and kind of stuck in their their ways right right um well in my understanding of conservative conservativism a big part of that is like you succeed or fail on your own merits and it’s up to you and that pick yourself up by your bootstraps and of course for those of us that are struggling with addiction or mental health like when I was using actively like I didn’t have the capacity to pick myself up by my bootstraps you know what I mean and I had no income no money so if it wasn’t for resources that were provided by the community you know I I wouldn’t have had anything to go to I went to a state-run rehab you know is where I went right the other problem with that is a lot of these programs if you base the success of the program off the success rate of the individuals we all know like addiction and and mental health programs they’re sort of Life long they’re not go in for 30 days or 60 days or 90 days people need typically long-term care so you can’t measure that program to say oh look it’s a great success we should continue to fund it and so therefore it’s easy to say well we should just cut that out it doesn’t work anyway so let’s just cut it out right but it’s it’s not viewed as a safety social safety net it’s viewed as you know just some program well and and you know not to get his way off of the [  ] topic but just thinking about the idea of like during covet we had these these child tax credit payments for people right and if you look at a situation we’re going to judge people and we’re are going to say Oh Billy over there who comes from a household median income of five hundred thousand dollars where his parents didn’t have to worry about money where they had more time to take off of work and show up for him and take him to doctor’s appointments and give him care uh yeah he can pull himself up by his bootstraps as an adult why can’t Jason over there who grew up with like rags and and hand-me-downs and never got ahead and couldn’t get to the doctors when he was sick and you know like we’re going to judge that and like us more stressed parent who doesn’t have money for food for the whole [ __ ] week is not going to be able to take care of their kids in as good of a situation as somebody who doesn’t worry about money and it’s just like why can’t we see that and make the decision to support parents so that we can stop harming children because I I we can have a lot of conversations today but one of the things that sticks out to me is that this life is not here anymore because of the situation they grew up in that’s my take on it I I don’t know if you disagree Austin but like that’s exactly what it sounds like to me [Music] yeah well okay and so you go back to um basically like you were saying like everybody was locked down the government was giving out free money you know what I mean or I don’t know if you consider it free I’m sure we’ll pay it back someday somehow Eight dollar eggs oh it’s only eight there like 10 12 out here but you know they say Idle Hands is the Devil’s Playground I was fortunate I stayed working the whole time uh so did my wife and my wife worked in the treatment in a treatment facility in the treatment setting I was in the oil and gas industry so I was considered essential here because that’s part of our nation’s infrastructure right so I was lucky you know I didn’t get to sit at home and have nothing but free time you know I could tell you that I could tell you that it was lucky because I know where my head goes I know where my uh my attic brain will take me if I’m doing nothing but sitting in my house you know right and uh getting handed money you know um it’s a matter of time for me I think in that situation until I’m going to the liquor store or you know finding something else you know to to pass the time and so I think that that did have a huge effect on uh on everybody you know even even the people that were essential because we were still seeing it you know we were seeing the the consequences of that with our friends and our family and and uh our neighbors and you know everybody else around right so I mean you said you were like really entrenched in the program when this all happened and you know doing the math myself I’m guessing you had like right around three years uh in recovery man I’m thinking back to having three years in recovery Billy and I was not ready maybe I had the right Network and support system to help me through it because I did feel pretty plugged in at that time but God I was not ready to handle anything this big yeah that just sounds can you can you talk a little bit about like how I don’t know what was the experience what would you go through was it shocking devastating like what share with us uh what you’re comfortable sharing with yeah so and that’s the thing about it is like the grief process right it’s uh it comes in waves you know uh still to this day you know I have ups and downs like there’ll be times I’ll be at work and I I today I operate heavy equipment and so I sit in a piece of equipment for 12 hours a day by myself you know I got plenty of time to just be thinking right and uh so like even to this day you know like I’ll go from like one second like cussing my sister out to like crying because then just like thinking about happy times right but so in that moment in that uh right after right after she took her life um honestly like one of the biggest things like my wife she’s the one that uh turned me on to you guys about three years ago uh my wife Autumn uh she’s emailed you guys a few times she uh she has a few uh a couple more years clean than I do and uh you know also working in the treatment facility she’s and she uh she’s just amazing right and so like did she 13. no no we used together she just got clean before I did I gotcha she went to a very long-term treatment program she was in there for like nine months wow that’s awesome yeah yeah and uh actually my daughter uh has the most clean time out of all of us that’s fantastic I hope it always stays that way yeah yeah me too but um so like she was a huge support man like without her uh I don’t know if I would have been able to do it you know um my mom my mom was a wreck she’s still kind of a wreck these days like it’s getting easier I won’t say it’s getting better it’s getting easier but um it’s like my wife basically wrote the obituary like basically did almost everything for the funeral um I helped when I could but yeah like it was it was an emotional time but at the same time like for me I was also really good at um still kind of stuff in my feelings now right um it didn’t hit me until a little while after that I was actually able to to grieve and and to cry and to feel those emotions right um but that was the first thing I did whenever I got that phone call uh my mom called me crying she couldn’t even talk uh my stepdad had to get on the phone and tell me what happened and directly after that I called some sponsies and I called my sponsor and uh after that you know middle of the night it was like midnight when I got the phone call packed everything up loaded up the kid and the dog and and made the six hour trip to uh to Gillette to be with my family and to uh uh you know to start working on that process of of getting the funeral together you know getting just taking care of whatever we could take care of you know to be with my family really is the biggest part uh being that support for them a little while after it so like there are support groups um grief and loss support groups

um one of the biggest helps was I went to uh this grief group down in Rock Springs and the guy that facilitated a gym he was like he’s one of the strongest people I know so he uh lost his daughter to see this uh suicide a couple years later it was too hard for him to handle in his or for his wife to handle and she took her own life and then uh later that year of 20 no in early 2020 he lost his son to an accidental overdose and so he had he’s like he’s like it’s just me and my daughter left right and so um you know me and him laugh together in there we cried together like he was just he was huge support but most the time uh being as a smaller Community it was usually just like me right and so like we got that intimate relationship we got to be able to talk about all this stuff and so it was basically counseling but with two just you know just basically you know like saying one attic help with another it was one grieving person helping another and so that was a a tremendous support for me yeah I don’t know man it’s it’s a and see it’s like I don’t know it’s a weird thing because like it’s one thing for um I think it felt different if it was uh you know like an accident right like she died in a car accident or you know what I mean but when somebody takes their own life like they’ve really got to be in a low spot or really not thinking about what they’re doing so uh my sister was heavily intoxicated on on alcohol methamphetamine when she did it uh she was off her mental health medication um you know there were all these variables that played into it right right and so times me you know times I like to think that like hey if she would have been on her meds and stable this wouldn’t have happened or if she wouldn’t have been loaded this might have this might not have happened or you know like I can play all these what ifs right you end up playing the what if game a lot whenever it becomes whenever it comes to a somebody that that passes away especially by Suicide right because then like you start feeling like hey like is there anything is was there more that I could have done you know like what you know I could have reached out more I could have you know this and that you know but at the end of the day like I just have come to like accept it for what it is you know they’re like she decided to to do what she did and and I just gotta move on and like so that’s why it you know the programs taught me to carry the message to the addict that still suffers why can’t I carry a message of Hope uh to people suffering with mental illness uh people people feeling hopeless feeling like there’s not you know that there’s not something out there for them right because I also you know I suffer from depression anxiety right uh my mental so I always said you know like if my if my substance abuse didn’t kill me my mental health was going right especially whenever I was at the lowest point in my life because like you said I had nothing right I had nothing I I gave everything away due to my addiction right I was a homeless at times I was so towards the end of my addiction I was basically squatting in a trailer you know I had no electricity no uh no gas no running water like just miserable life right and so I was at a very low spot and uh I think my child was like the only thing that gave me a little bit of Hope and light right that like I needed to get my needed to get my [  ] together so that I could be a father for this beautiful little girl I have right well my sister didn’t have children she didn’t have that you know she didn’t have I think she just felt felt lost and hopeless right and so today like I tried to Advocate like uh you know you might be going through a tough time right now you might be going through some hardships you might feel alone you might feel hopeless but there’s always you know I feel like there’s always light at the end of the tunnel like that doesn’t need to be the solution today hear your problems right uh that’s a permanent that’s a you know they say that’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem right yeah that’s a I don’t know I mean I get to say and and yet still I don’t know that it provides a lot of comfort for you or anybody else that’s dealing with it I don’t want to bring this up to try to make any comparisons or or levels or intensities of what people go through I think there’s a lot of similarities across the field of grief for anybody who’s ever had to experience that so like I don’t know that a a ton of people can relate into this particular instance but I do think most of us can relate in in some way to losing someone and trying to move on without them and you know the experience of like having to make some of these calls and the support that shows up or doesn’t um we had we’ve done a we did a grief episode quite a while ago and the individual that guested on that episode shared that like in the in the immediate sense or wake of what happened everybody showed up right it was like non-stop outpouring of all this support and then you know there came this time period of this line where it became it felt to them and nobody said this to them but it felt to them like people were tired of hearing about it and it was like time for them to get over it almost there’s what it felt like um did you experience any of that I know you already kind of talked about how you sort of sought out this other this other place and I think that was probably has a lot to do with where you got a lot of support but I’m curious did it feel like the support kind of dropped off at some point in time um you know I kind of feel like it has in a way right so like up here in Gillette they are very few grief and loss groups or like there is one but it’s like really kind of toxic because it’s just like the guy that facilitates it just comes in there and just like completely trashes his wife you know like he’s just he’s very very angry about his wife taking her life you know um and I mean I understand it you know like that’s that’s part of grief right you go through an anchor phase or you know but it’s like super unhealthy right yes and it’s so um like my mom actually attends most of her support groups online um but that’s so that’s another Avenue right for support you can find support online you can find support um I go I go to counseling I go to therapy right my mom goes to counseling I got my daughter in a grief Group which um she absolutely loves uh it’s a it’s a children’s grief group but for me like I have another Avenue which is through the program in Narcotics Anonymous I can go there and I can spew my stuff you know I can get all that stuff off my chest with like-minded people but at the same time like not everybody’s gonna have that right yeah and so this comes back to like kind of breaking that stigma making resources more available like I think we need to have um you know more more grief and loss groups and I’m sure it’s it’s different in bigger cities you know I’m sure people have that but um as far as like you know you said our our rural communities it’s just not available a lot yeah I I was also picturing that like a lot of people I would imagine an hour with our backgrounds right people in recovery I would imagine a lot of us feel a sense of having lost people we cared about to death by Suicide right like I know and you brought this up before we started recording for the show today like even though it’s not technically considered or counted in the quote unquote official numbers of suicide deaths um you know even I remember hearing in the fellowship like we’re com we’re practicing this idea of suicide on a time or or on an installment plan basically right like we’re doing a little bit of time killing ourselves every day and we never do know when it’s going to be that time and so I get it maybe there’s some Nuance difference between the two but I would imagine a lot of people feel like the person they lost had an active hand in the end of their life and it’s that’s just a really really hard concept I think to handle like you said by accident by disease at least it feels like there’s a reason and I would imagine it would be really hard to especially when we already struggle with understanding life and understanding the world it would be really difficult to try to get through the feelings of having to deal with the thing without understanding why I think there’s an area of compassion at least for me as an addict like I remember using it at the end of my using like I didn’t really care if I died I didn’t want to actively kill myself but I didn’t really care if I died and thought I’m gonna die anytime now so I think as we at least for me as I got clean it allows that experience allows me to be way more empathetic to people that are in that state and make a different choice you know because I know what that’s like to be like man it’s [  ] hard you know like life is hard and things are difficult and and I don’t know what to do and sometimes we just want relief from pain and that can do that but obviously it hurts those around us as well so it’s tough that’s the hardest part right is like trying to trying to one of the hardest parts in my opinion is like trying to con console somebody that lost somebody to Suicide right and that’s another part right like uh say I lose somebody to cancer like or you know a friend of mine loses their parent to cancer like I can kind of console him in a different way because it was anticipated right whenever it’s something that’s unexpected it’s I think it’s kind of harder to console somebody especially whenever it’s it’s by you know like you said it’s by their own hands um like Billy said though like I was at the end of you know like I didn’t at the end of my addiction I didn’t care if I lived or used same I I mean I mean lived or died I was just um you know I was just an empty shell of a person anyway you know and uh today like you said I’m like way more compassionate I’m way more empathetic like and that’s why I like I kind of uh you know try to be an advocate for people um for support for for whatever like um trying to be that you know that Beacon of Hope to tell people that like like whatever you’re going through is temporary you know like we can get through this like you know there’s resources out there um some might be more difficult to find than others um but that’s also a gift of the internet right like you could find just about whatever resource you want online these days and so that’s another blessing that that uh we have at our you know at our disposal well when you when you talk about that idea of like at the end we didn’t really care to be alive one of the things that stands out to me about that and you kind of mentioned you were an empty shell of a person and I was thinking yeah I felt like whatever the the thing is you know we can give it some words there’s like Vitality Chi Life Energy Soul like whatever the [  ] it is in us that makes us feel alive or be alive that was gone for the most part right there was just this like uh you know very gray black message of like just get the means to get one more at all times like that was the only thing that went on inside of me so yeah it didn’t feel like I was alive and dying so to speak necessarily didn’t feel like I was giving up anything I felt like I was kind of already there my body was just sort of going through the motions of still existing it’s not a snail song right because he says uh I believe I could see the future because I repeat the same routine and that was uh you know that spoke volumes to me because like you said it was the getting and finding Ways and Means to get more it was I every day it was like how am I gonna get money to get loaded and then I get money and then I get loaded and it was just this repetitive vicious cycle right yeah and uh I feel like a lot of people kind of feel that way with with with their mental health right I feel like a lot of people go back and forth with themselves with trying to feel like how how am I going to get out of this depression you know and then you know something they might find a little bit of relief but then they keep going back it’s like that revolving door right they keep keep going back into that depressive state or that whatever the case may be you know um whether it be like they find some find some relief on playing video games but then they know they got to go to school the next day and they’re gonna get bullied again you know like it’s I feel like it’s kind of that same that same cycle in a lot of different situations and uh whenever it comes to your mental health like I feel like you gotta find something some sort of solution right to to make yourself feel better whether that be therapy whether that be um you know going to counseling whether that be going to support groups whether that be just even talking to another person you know like talking to my mom like uh me and my mom have always been super close and so like uh we lean on each other quite a bit right but there’s days that like for her it’s it’s this repetitive cycle right with with grief at least you know because like there’s days when she’s feeling all right and doing doing pretty good and then uh maybe not even days you know like hours she’s feeling all right feeling good and she found that temporary relief whether you know whether it be working out in her small business uh doing something for somebody else or and then a couple hours later it hits her again and then she’s bawling and she’s just like has all these y’s and these what if questions going on you know and so like it’s a it’s just a constant cycle right yeah and so I don’t know it’s [Music] I think it would be helpful for if we began a conversations around mental health as far as like assimilating it to like physical health like most people just think oh you’re just supposed to be mentally healthy with doing little to no work or maintenance or even research to see if you’re mentally healthy don’t we think that about physical health too well we kind of do but we’re starting to learn like no if you want to be like physically healthy like it depends on what you’re eating and are you exercising and are you getting enough sleep and are you getting enough sunlight and all those things contribute to our physical health and I think it would be helpful if we started looking at our mental health that way too I know I was raised in a home where you didn’t go to any kind of counseling psychiatrist psychologist and if you did that something was wrong you know something was wrong with you and it’s we almost need to incorporate into our system like mental health Wellness checkups like you just go talk to a counselor you know maybe once or twice a year just to see how you’re doing like as a checkup almost and then having some regular routines around mental health we’re lucky I think in 12-step groups if we’re actively participating in a program with other healthy people I’m gonna give that caveat that we’re doing some of that like you know I’m around people that are helping me you know we have in our the Narcotics Anonymous literature that just for today reading about you know getting a better perspective on my life and doing some things I need to do that [  ] every day because my mental health you know can lead me as strong Ray yeah yeah I mean if we could speak of the importance of like self-reflection self-awareness like any clue that hey just what I do naturally is the course of my day every day might not be the right thing all the time uh I just think we we operate from this Assumption of I’m always right and we never even opened the idea to like maybe I can hear somebody else or some other idea and and what the way that impacts me in relation to this episode is the main thing that stands out is I don’t know this for sure but my take for whatever that’s worth is that if we can have somebody on this world that can see us and hear us and validate us we’re probably not going to leave and if we have left or choosing to leave that probably means that there’s literally not one single person that’s showing up for us in a meaningful way and really hearing what the [  ] we’re saying really listening really able to see through what they think the world should be and hear what we’re saying it is for us and for for teenagers and children this is like the scariest because as a parent I’m a guy who didn’t hear my [  ] kids for a while right and I work with people who aren’t hearing their children and I work around death by Suicide and it’s sad and it’s just like man when are we going to decide to put like I yes shitty things happen in the world but if your parents hear you and see you I think there’s like there’s a way to get through it there’s a way to support you through it all the worst bullying and whatever else could be happening with your peers and like to me this is falling on parents man we need to [  ] step up and acknowledge it and take the ownership of like there’s something else we can do besides be a dick or a punishment or uh you did the wrong thing go to your room or give me your phone and now you don’t have access to your support networks and I I don’t know maybe I’m standing on soapbox today sorry no I think he I think he both had really really valuable uh really valuable points there and like uh what Billy was saying like yeah I think that’s a great idea you know what I mean go go visit a counselor once or twice a year and then maybe you know uh you’ll actually get into visiting that counselor more because you do realize you have some unresolved issues you have see and that’s another big thing is trauma right and usually we only associate trauma with like massive events right you know maybe domestic violence sexual sexual abuse um you know all these things but man trauma can happen like so you know uh I lost my guinea pig that was traumatic you know uh you know I lost my job I uh you know my relationship just ended you know like a lot of these things are you know like uh I think being cheated on right I think if you’re significant other cheats on you I think that’s traumatic you know what I mean like I don’t think people realize that like drama plays a huge part in our lives and so like you were saying it’s like starting with our parents like yeah I think that if our parents were a little bit more empathetic and more more understanding or at least willing to take the time out of their day to talk to their children and see like hey is everything all right with you like how is school going like how is school actually going how is your relationship with your friends how is your like how are you just doing mentally you know what I mean um I think that would play a huge part in it um because like I said we didn’t really have that growing up both my parents are addicts like I’m grateful both of them are clean today and doing really well uh but up until this event like my dad still was that that hardened person right he uh didn’t believe you know like yeah he didn’t even know that stuff he didn’t believe about talking about your feelings like none of that and ever since this has happened he’s become a lot more compassionate empathetic uh understanding he he um he actually tells me you know tells everyone like one of his kids that he loves him today and like he you know he’s willing to talk about his feelings for once you know and uh it’s sucks that it took this tragic event for that to happen right but the thing about it is it is happening now right yeah and hopefully we begin to make those changes generationally you know like I am better at talking about emotions and feelings with my kids than my parents ever were and hopefully that begins a healthier Trend you know going forward yeah yeah and what I was thinking when Austin was just giving us you know some of that with the the way he described parents not being able to show up and listen or the ways maybe they would do better at it it brought to mind I think my first little soapbox moment was about you know the evil parents right even though that doesn’t exist but this is there’s a lot of loving parents and we accidentally dismiss our children as well right and just I want to give the parents what that looks like if every time your kid comes to you to talk about what they’re going through you try to give them A Life Lesson or a moral lesson that’s not humility like we talked about in our last episode right that’s the feeling of oh my God I’m terrified they’re not going to turn into a person that can make it in this world and it’s my job and I better fix it real quick that is a fear reaction that is a what I have to tell you is more important than what you’re telling me reaction maybe sometimes we’ll be better off just like leaving the lectures and the [  ] just they’ll figure it out man just be the good person you want them to be and they will model the [  ] out of that right so like maybe we don’t need to do that so much maybe we can just listen yeah sometimes letting people know that you love them or that you care is more than just throwing the words out there you know it’s it is showing up it’s it’s maybe taking them out to eat or having a conversation about something that they like that you’re not into I mean I’ll talk to my kids about you know video games or stuff that I know nothing about right right just to try to let them know like hey I’m interested you know in in what you have going on like you matter yeah and in 2023 one of the ways to show people they matter is put your [  ] technological devices down like that is yeah I’m my phone is not in my face while we’re talking to Austin or Billy or any like no we need to be here and hear what people are saying um Austin just keep an eye on time man I would love for you to look if you could uh move into some of the ways you’ve found beneficial for you to get involved more and maybe this cause or this topic and the ways you find that have helped you heal through maybe however that looks yeah so um I’m part of uh Suicide Prevention Coalition up here I am also on the steering committee for the crisis intervention team which The Crisis Intervention team has to do with how law enforcement handles uh people with mental illness nice and so for the crisis intervention team you know I get to go uh to some of their trainings and speak on my experience with my addiction right with my substance abuse disorder I get to speak on uh on my sister’s suicide right I get to I get to to work with these law enforcement uh professionals right and uh that was something crazy too an addict working with law enforcement like this like kind of blew my mind like first time or like any time I introduce myself when I’m there I’m like it’s nice to be sitting on the same side of the table as you guys you know what I mean it’s nice to not be in handcuffed when I’m talking with you guys right you know and but uh just getting law enforcement a better understanding of how people with mental illness uh uh might think or might react um as far as like the the prevention working with the prevention um you know like uh we have events we speak you know my mom has become a pretty big Advocate as well she goes and shares her story about losing a child to to Suicide you know I get to go and speak on on uh losing a sibling to suicide and so just getting involved in the community right getting people to understand that um like mental health matters right and uh especially so this is another weird thing right so there’s it was the the term was coined in like the 70s so um it’s called Gillette syndrome and it was based after the town the name of the town that I live in right and uh it’s the social disruption of the uh the social disruption the effects of Boom counts right so we’re considered a Boom Town due to the oil gas and coal mining Industries the population it was rapid population growth and so due to those that rapid population growth came uh deteriorated mental health more crime just so and so right it’s not so much that like that these days like we’re pretty stable in our population but I think that kind of carried on you know like is that uh is that from like less connected communities because so many people are moving there at one time from all over the place that it’s like a lot of strangers instead of like slowly progressing where like oh hey there’s 20 families here one new family moves in we all get to know them like that’s a lot more comfortable than just 80 people moving from 80 different places and none of you know each other like that’s a lot less Community going on a lot less connection yeah I think that’s a big part of it too you know like uh because we still get people from all over you know we had a we had a guy come to our meeting the other day he’s from Texas uh up here working in the oil field you know what I mean it’s like we still get people from all over um and like you said there’s less connection you know that that might be a big part of it less connection going back to what I was talking about though like uh about getting involved in the community like each and every person can get involved in the community you can go volunteer the soup kitchen you can go volunteer at a library you know like you can go do volunteer work you can uh something as simple as like going and asking your neighbor if you can walk their dog you know what I mean like that’s another thing like there’s all different forms of therapy you know like I went to a treatment center that had Equine Therapy I was able to go ride horses and spend time with horses uh in in return it got me out of myself I was able to talk to these animals and as weird as it might sound you know like I was actually able to share secrets with an animal and it was another being it might not have been a person they might not have understood what I was saying but the thing about it is like I was getting it out you know what I mean I can’t like that I can’t get the picture out of my head of somebody going there and like sharing a really awful secret and then like by accident or chance like the horse kicks him right afterwards [ __ ] I can’t even share my secrets with horses right

no and so like I think a big part of that that’s a that would be very unfortunate I think a big part of it though is uh just connection like you said I’m connecting with an animal I’m connecting with with another being you know so today I I’ve made those connections right I made them with um within my community with these Law Enforcement Officers you know um I’ve made them with with counselors I’ve made them uh with our prevention our prevention team which are you know the prevention team has County Commissioners has doctors as lawyers has you know all these uh professionals on it you know and so like I’ve made these connections with these people to try to get information out try to get resources out um you know so that’s that’s a big thing that we’re working on is trying to get more resources readily available for people that are suffering you know whether they’re suffering with their substance abuse whether they’re suffering with mental illness and I think it’s something like 70 or 80 percent of people that abuse substances also have the Dual diagnosis disorder you know they it’s a feelings disease they say right and so like I was using to try to numb myself try to cope with you know cope with feelings or whatever and so like I think a lot of people self-medicate uh you know whether they’re depressed or or bipolar or you know whatever I think they’re just trying to self-medicate through substances and so getting resources out getting resources available getting uh even just getting information out right um we hand out little cards it’s like you know like you matter the simple stuff like that like little cards that have like the the 988 crisis number on it you know like right getting this information out just so people like can even you know I don’t know if somebody sees that and it might change their thought you know yeah oh good oh I was just gonna say are there things like as either a family member loved one friend are there things we can do if we see maybe a friend or loved one in a emotional crisis or actions we should take so going back to what Jason said um you know I think just listening right I think that’s a huge thing but um there’s definitely signs so like making yourself aware of the signs right I uh observable signs of like serious depressions right like unrelenting low mood pessimism hopelessness to desperation anxiety

um withdraw sleep problems increase alcohol and drug use [Music] um threatening suicide or expressing a strong wish to die like some of those are all signs right and so I think if we see if we start to see some of these especially just something as simple as like being withdrawn right I see somebody being withdrawn I want to try to make contact with them I want to try to you know a big part of my thing is sharing my story what I’ve gone through uh whether it be with my substance abuse with my own depression with the loss of my sister like you know um being able to talk with somebody and uh you know even better just listening you know I don’t know how to say this I think if we know the signs a little bit better we might be able to uh have better judgment and be able to go talk to somebody about it right um so familiar you’re making yourself familiar with those with those warning signs um just reaching out though that’s another thing is like most people at least in my experience myself like whenever I’m feeling like that I don’t want to reach out I wanna I wanna sell flows I want to sit in my in my [  ] and just be depressed you know and so if we familiarize ourselves with those signs like hey we can go like hey how are you doing today like I reached out to some of my sponsees and some of my friends and just be like hey like how are you doing mentally today you know like because a lot of people aren’t going to just come out and talk about it right right I’m glad you brought up 988 which is our national suicide and crisis hotline you can use that from anywhere in the U.S uh it’s sort of like I guess 9-1-1 for emotions maybe uh 9-1-1 is always still available you know if you can’t remember 988 call 9-1-1 that’s fine they will get you to the right place um I I know there’s like groups to help people grieve and and deal with the aftermath uh and there’s also lots of uh help out there it’s probably varies a lot state by state locality to locality is there anything else that you’re aware of Austin through the work you do that would be really useful for us to tell people or have links to underneath the episode yeah so I can definitely send you some links and so this is another one that I wanted to talk uh touch on right was um the Trevor Project oh okay so the Trevor Project is for the lgbtq community and uh it says right you know lgbtq young people are four times more likely to attempt suicide and society and suicide Remains the second leading cause of death among all young people in the U.S that probably means they’re uh one-fourth is valued and seen as the rest of us right and so like if you uh are are you know part of that um lgbtq Community like that would be another thing I would suggest you know um I think um they have the the Trevor Lifeline uh which is one eight six six four eight eight seven three eight six and uh so you can once again it’s about that connection you can speak to like-minded people about what you’re going through you know like I’m a straight man I don’t know what what uh you know a person in the lgbtq community might be going through I can relate to them in certain aspects of their life I’m sure but like they have a whole different realm of hardships that they go through you know and especially being a young person like that and uh junior high or high school I’m sure that’s not an easy thing to go through you know and so um the biggest thing I think is is talking about it you know no matter what you uh identify as what your race nationality you know like none of that matters the biggest thing that matters is like reach out and talk to somebody about what you’re going through about your hopelessness about you know whatever the case may be I think that’s the biggest thing and so like I’m super grateful that we do have these resources today like you can pick up the phone and you can call somebody you can get on the internet you can find all this you know find support groups out and uh just talk about what you’re going through no absolutely and uh you know I was there anything else you definitely wanted to say before we had to stop no I think you know I think we’ve kind of covered a little bit of everything okay awesome awesome uh Austin what I wanted to just say you know for my piece to kind of wrap up the show today like I appreciate your bravery and coming on I know this isn’t an easy topic um I appreciate your courage and like just being open about your life and and some of your vulnerabilities that you’ve had to face and I appreciate how much it means to you to be a part of the service of trying to help others to ever have to go through this or feel this on either side the person who who you know would eventually not be here and their family members like you wanna you feel a dedication to that cause and to be of service in that area and I just I I can’t commend you or tell you how much I think of that highly or like look English [  ] sucks there’s not the right words you’re awesome and thank you for all that you do I appreciate you guys like you guys get me through uh you guys get me through a lot you know because I’m still crazy I’m still an addict I still uh get stuck in my own head sometimes especially like I said I spend 12 hours a day by myself at work uh it’s really easy for my brain to go on a in a really negative Direction and so like uh podcasts I lean on podcasts heavily and you guys helped me out tremendously that’s awesome see we always think our episodes are too long he’s got 12 hours every day we need to make him longer yeah awesome awesome well thank you again Austin and uh everybody out there hey man just try to see the people in your life and hear them just a little bit better today right have a good week see you later Austin have a good day okay man you as well yeah thank you so much for coming on that’s really good stuff yeah yeah thank you and I thank you for sharing your story bye bye

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