“ I need to tell you that I haven't really ever told my story. I am placing an amount of trust in you to tell my story in a respectful and honest way. All I desire is that I am able to reach out and help others… if I can change one life, then its all worth it.
Growing up I was very close to my Dad. He was wise, creative, intelligent, could do anything and never let us fail. He taught us how to have self-respect and to stand on our own two feet. He loved fishing and seeing us smile.
In 2010, I decided that I wanted to move from our small town in Missouri and find a place with more opportunity. My Dad was so proud. I ended up getting a job in Arizona. He flew out with me and made sure that I was all set up. Shortly after my own move, my parents settled up their lives back home and decided that Arizona was also the place for them. They made the move in 2012.
My Dad seemed to love the area and his new life, but slowly I started noticing some changes. He was always a quiet man, but he seemed to grow more distant and just seemed… off.
As we were experiencing some changes in our family, he called me. It was February 4, 2012- the day we had gotten back from a Vegas trip with family and friends. He called to let me know that, in about a month, he would be “leaving.”
I asked him where he was going and he said "a place you'll never know". I cried and begged him to stay, begged him to move in with me, begged him to tell me what was going on. After that phone call, everything was a blur. I don’t remember a lot. But all that changed on March 3, 2012.
My Dad came over for a visit. He bought me a dog, a German Shorthaired Pointer named Baylor. It was our favourite breed, one we always had while growing up. But my dad was very quiet, he was different, he didn't look well. I could tell he had lost some weight and was just not the same.
But, apart from that, he told me that he was starting a new job and that was looking forward to it. He told me about some money he had won at the casino, and how he had decided to make his way to my house with the dog. After this, he left. He gave me a hug and told me that he loved me…
I still remember getting this overwhelming feeling and thinking, “I wonder if he would ever shoot himself.” Don't ask me why, but I just knew. Yet, I did nothing. He was my DAD, he would never do something like that.
I walked to the back of my apartment and looked out to the parking lot, and just sat and watched until he drove away. That was the last time I saw or spoke to him.
On Sunday March 4th, I felt sick all day. I didn’t feel right. I decided around 7pm that I would go to bed early and see how I felt in the morning. I put my phone on silent and went to sleep. At 8:36pm, I sat straight up in bed and looked at my phone. My Mom was calling me. I answered and she said "Dad shot himself and I don't think he is going to make it."
I can still hear myself scream.
From that moment, I can literally close my eyes and see and hear everything that happened that night. From the call, to the drive to their house, the sirens, the lights, the cop grabbing my arm as I tried to run in, the crisis team, the interview, my Mom, and most of all, seeing my Dad.
I saw them put him into a body bag and then place him in the back of an ambulance. I remember every call to every family member, telling them that my Dad had passed away- that he had "accidentally shot himself.” Accidentally.
I don't think I slept for days. People were flying in, arrangements needed to be made. It was a living hell. I don't know how I survived it.
My Dad was my world and my best friend. I always questioned how I would survive his death, yet somehow, here I am.
My heart aches everyday without him here. Luckily, I have an amazing husband who I met just a year after his death. It's weird but sometimes when he laughs, I hear my Dad’s laugh. I believe that my Dad brought him to me.
My story is just one of millions. My story isn't more special or tragic or more important than the millions of other stories out there. For years, I have tried to find ways to cope and help others, and finally, it came to me; jewelry.
My Dad used to make beautiful jewelry and I feel that I am honouring his memory while also connecting with so many others who have unfortunately suffered through similar losses.
I can’t tell you how much I wish I had said, "Dad are you ok, what can I do?" I have blamed myself and others. I have felt angry, sad and guilty… and I still cycle through those emotions. They don't ever completely go away, you just get used to them.
I have healed some, but the pain will live with me forever.
I don't wish this kind of pain on anyone.
They say that suicide is selfish. It's not. It's an act of desperation, a disease. And its getting worse, because people are too ashamed and embarrassed to talk about it. Exactly like me, when I told everyone my dad’s death was an “accident.”
Suicide does not discriminate. Not by age or religion or sex… it can effect anyone.
So, thank you again for wanting to hear my story and for sharing it. I want more than anything to help and be part of the change.”
Ashley Newton, Scottsdale, Arizona