Will had a warm soul. Those who knew him immediately felt the kindness of his spirit as he laughed easily with others and smiled readily. Kids loved Will, coaches remembered his heart, and he was well liked by his peers and teachers. Will was easy going, active in his church, excelled in athletics and overall easy to parent. Those in Will’s community observed him as living a blessed life, growing up in a small town with both of his parents, close knit family and supportive extended family close by. Will was our second son, having a brother 3 years older and one 4 years younger. Will attended the same school from 4K through high school. We had the privilege of watching him grow up and attend college, earning a bachelor degree in business. We were eager to see the next steps of Will’s journey come to fruition.
Will never suffered with depression or other mental illnesses growing up. He was not a “problem child”, nor did we have to explain away “troublesome behavior”. Will did not complain of feeling sad. His teachers and the many people who were active in his life would agree, his humility and smile were some of the biggest things about him. Will’s problems began when he began to worry about his grades in college. He started taking Adderall as a freshman in college after showing signs of inattention. We don’t know if he had a standardized assessment to warrant this diagnosis, but we do know it was prescribed. Given the prevalence of this diagnosis, we certainly did not see his need to stay focused as a red flag or warning that something was wrong.
After Will’s graduation we had more time to spend with him. We considered some irregular sleeping patterns and not socializing with friends as he normally did were causes for concern. He was also having a difficult time as many do with transitioning into the world of work. Will’s sleep difficulties began to be exposed when he missed work due to sleeping through his alarm. Over time, Will’s tardiness to work made steady employment a problem. We couldn’t figure out what was going on with him and began to think he was unmotivated and lazy. This was quite complexing to us, as at times Will began having routine episodes of severe flu type symptoms which required frequent medical attention. Some of these episodes were so severe that he would call me to drive him to these appointments. Later I would learn that these severe flu type symptoms which kept him out of work were a sign of Adderall withdrawal. He was taking more than the prescribed amount and ran out before his next prescription. We knew little of his struggles that came to light that year, but we did know he was battling an addiction to prescription Adderall. Will covered his addiction well. He smiled, laughed, played golf, etc and most people did not know what he was dealing with.
Six months before his death, we sought professional guidance and Will began seeing a counselor/nurse and a physician who worked together with their patients. His counselor voiced concern at their first appointment at the high dose of Adderall he was taking. They began taking him off Adderall.
For a period of time, we felt good about Will’s progress. Monday, October 17, 2016 something was different. I reached out to the counselor and made an appointment for him. His Dad and I arrived at his home to take him to the appointment and found him unconscious. Will died shortly thereafter at 5: 10 pm at our local emergency room. He was 28 years old. That tragic day in 2016 held a perfect storm and Will lost all hope. His suicide was not planned. Will left no note behind just an empty bottle of Adderall sitting all by itself on the top of his dresser. On Will’s burial footstone we had the best 8 adjectives that described him engraved: CHRISTIAN, LOVING, POLITE, FRIENDLY, LOYAL, SINCERE, HANDSOME, ATHLETIC
Large Healthcare Systems spanning both primary and behavioral care are a critical setting where coordinated suicide prevention strategies can have a dramatic impact on lives saved.
Project 2025 is collaborating with the country’s largest healthcare systems and accrediting organizations to accelerate the acceptance and adoption of risk identification and suicide prevention strategies we know work.
By identifying one out of every five at-risk people in large healthcare systems – such as during primary care and behavioral health visits – and providing them with short-term intervention and better follow-up care, we can expect an estimated 9,200 lives saved through 2025.
Emergency Departments present a key opportunity to identify and treat the individuals at the highest and most immediate risk for suicide.
Basic screening and interventions can provide a safety net for at-risk patients seen in emergency departments.
Project 2025 is educating emergency medicine providers, and collaborating with key accrediting and professional organizations to improve the acceptance and adoption of suicide screening and preventative intervention as the standard in emergency care.
By screening one out of five people seen in ERs, and providing short-term interventions such as Safety Planning and follow-up care, we can expect an estimated 1,100 lives saved through 2025.