DALLAS — Two brothers in Allen, who admitted in a six-page suicide note that they had planned the murder-suicide of their family earlier this week, documented failed attempts to get successful treatment for their anxiety and depression. Psychologists who reviewed that letter say treatment and recovery could have been possible if approached correctly.
"It's apparent that these young men were suffering from depression for many years," said Cami Fields, who survived a suicide attempt at 16 years old.
Now, she is the Director of Outreach and Education for the Grant Halliburton Foundation in Dallas, a suicide prevention and addiction recovery nonprofit. The organization is named after Dallas teen Grant Halliburton who took his life in 2005 after struggling with depression and bipolar disorder. Like the younger brother in Allen who penned the note this week, Grant was 19-years-old.
"Depression can really start tricking your brain to thinking things and feelings things that are not accurate, said Fields. "But you rationalize them and you really feel that they are real because your depression is changing your brain function."
The brothers, 19-year-old Farhan Towhid and 21-year-old Tanvir Towhid, talked about getting some help for their depression, but not consistent help. They also talked about the stigma of having something wrong with your brain.
"There shouldn't be stigma," said Fields. "You shouldn't have to be ashamed of it. People should be able to get the help that they need regardless."
"People do things when they are at a very heightened state of emotion," says Dallas-area psychologist Emily Reiss Bisignano whose treatment of teens in similar struggles includes a combination of counseling and medical intervention when appropriate.
"Those thoughts can eventually spin out of control a little bit and snowball into despair and hopelessness," she said. "The goal is really to manage the thoughts that people are experiencing, that teens are experiencing, in order to manage how they feel."
"But if they are able to kind of ride the wave a little bit, then they have clarity once they are down from that heightened state. And so in there, there is a lot of hope."
Hope in counseling. Hope in medical treatments if needed. Hope in all of us listening more, said Abdul Rahman Bashir, the Imam for the family at the Islamic Association of Allen.
"It's really sad that it takes these things to raise and eyebrow to bring our attention to these type of things," he said. "Everyone is dealing with something or the other and we just have to keep our our ears open and definitely our eyes open."
"And talking about suicide is the first step toward getting help," added Fields whose career to help others was motivated by her own successful recovery from depression. "So have those conversations, ask the really hard questions, and be able to help save lives."
The Grant Halliburton Foundation offers help to North Texans to find mental health and addiction information, treatment, and resources. Its website HereForTexas.com has a searchable database of North Texas providers, and is designed to help you make informed decisions about mental health care.
The Here For Texas Mental Health Navigation Line connects callers free of charge to trained mental health professionals who can offer support and services. The number is 972.525.8181 and operated Monday thru Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line is also available as a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.