STAR, Idaho — Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. While many are working to raise awareness of the issue every day, it continues to be an epidemic in modern society.
Debbie Hofhines of Star lost her husband to suicide in September. Now, she's hoping she can help others by bringing a voice to the issue and raising awareness.
Debbie had been married to her husband Brad for eight years and says he was a wonderful husband.
“Brad was an amazing guy," she said. "You would never know that he fought depression or any kind of mental illness whatsoever. He was very happy, was a jokester. He was the most kindest and gentle man and truly a gentleman. He opened the doors for me continually, brought me flowers continually.”
While Brad had several health problems over the last few years, including multiple painful surgeries, Debbie didn't know he was depressed.
“I never did ever dream in a million years he would ever really think of doing this and I didn’t know he was fighting depression,” she said.
In Sept. 2019, Brad and Debbie had just gotten back from one of his doctor's appointments and he was in some physical pain. She got him settled, did some work around the house then went back to check on him. She said she found him at the kitchen counter writing something.
“I asked him and he says, ‘I’m making a list of the bills so you’ll know what to pay,’" Debbie remembered. "And I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And he said, ‘I can’t do this anymore Debbie. I’m done.’”
Becoming concerned, Debbie remembered he had a gun in the house so she asked him for it. He claimed he had hidden it.
While Debbie went searching for it, Brad got the gun and went to the backyard. Before Debbie could stop him, he pulled the trigger.
“I know with all my heart that he was not in his right mind,” she said.
Gone in an instant was a husband, a father of six boys, and a grandfather to nearly a dozen grandchildren.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s horrid," Debbie said. "What it puts their family through is unbelievable because there’s no way you can’t feel that pain and guilt. It leaves you constantly every day wondering, ‘What could I have done? What more could I have done to have helped him?'”
Looking back, Debbie said there weren't really signs of Brad being suicidal - except one which she never dreamed would come to pass.
“Interesting enough, he did talk about suicide quite often," she said. "And the sad part is, I was raised my whole life that people who talk about suicide are the ones who will never do it, which is so totally wrong.”
There is something Debbie hopes others can learn from her tragedy.
“Listen and beware,” she said. “If there’s any signs at all, by all means, get help for them. Oh my gosh, get help for them.”
Another important thing is to talk about it and not brush it under the rug. Debbie said mental illness, depression, and suicide are all things that are happening in society and people need to address them.
“I hear over and over again, 'Talk about it,'" she said. "Because that’s how you’re going to heal and that’s how you’re going to get through the grief.”
While it's not easy for Debbie to share her experience with the public, she hopes her story can make a difference for someone else.
“As horrible and horrific as it’s been if I can help one person, it’ll all be worth it,” she said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available. Please reach out to the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, either by calling 2-1-1 and pressing 2 or by directly calling or texting the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 208-398-4357.
All calls are anonymous and confidential.