Posted: May 19, 2012 1:33 PM by Katie Stukey (KRTV News)
Updated: May 21, 2012 10:59 AM
GREAT FALLS- Most obituaries for people who take their own lives say nothing about the person's cause of death, but for Brad and Peg Nimmick of Great Falls, divulging that detail about their son Tyson's death might make a life-altering difference for others.
Tyson looked like the picture of health - young, fit, and happy.
Peg noted, "Everyone always wanted to be around Tyson," and Brad recalled, "He was a vibrant kid. He's always been a vibrant person. He was personable...people loved him."
Tyson was a natural leader and a perfectionist; his mother said, "He did set the bar extremely high for himself from the get-go. He didn't allow himself to make mistakes."
So when dark days hit, Tyson kept it inside, and from a young age searched for his own solution by self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.
His girlfriend Jenn Reichelt said, "He really never expressed with me a lot what he was feeling and what he was going through and that was hard."
It took a drinking binge for Jenn to learn that Tyson had battled mental illness for nearly half his life.
Brad stated, "His pride really got in the way of treating his depression. He didn't want to be depressed. He didn't want to have that label on him. He said 'I wish I had cancer because then it could be treated, then it would be accepted.'"
Trials of medications failed time and time again, so Tyson went back to the bottle - and back to spiraling down.
Brad said, "Every time he drank he lost part of himself and it came to the point that he couldn't lose anymore." Peg said, "It was just a vicious cycle...and Ty got tired."
And then 20 minutes before the start of 2012, Tyson took his own life.
Peg said, "I think your thinking is so distorted that a person who takes their life has no idea of the aftermath left for the families and they actually do think that they're helping us, by we don't have to worry about them anymore, whereas we're shattered and how do we go on?"
The Nimmicks choose to go on by being an open book about Tyson's strengths, about his joys, and about his struggles.
Instead of judgement, their approach has been met with support and praise.
Peg said, "Oh, my. No stigma! I mean you read about all this stigma. We don't have any stigma because suicide brings stigma. Mental illness brings stigma. We haven't received stigma cause people come to us with their pain, with their stories."
Brad concurred: "We've had people we don't know say your story helped us."
If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, the Center for Mental Health urges you to go to the emergency room or call 911.
You can also speak to local advocates by calling the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
The Center for Mental Health in Great Falls says that 90% of people who take their own lives had a treatable mental illness.
Suicide numbers in Great Falls are increasing. In the first 18 weeks of 2011, one person committed suicide and 25 attempted it. In the same time period this year, six people have taken their lives and police have been called to 35 attempts.
Center For Mental Health in Great Falls
Suicide Hotlines in Montana