Philanthropist and arts patron Mick McMurry of Casper committed suicide this week. He was 69, five years older than me. I saw him most recently at the Governor's Arts Awards Gala in Cheyenne two weeks ago. We knew each other from afar, as people who saw each other occasionally at arts events and other gatherings. In Wyoming (pop. 580,000), many of us are acquainted. It is sad when one of those acquaintances is suffering and we don't know about it and can't do a thing about it.
This story by Tom Morton appeared Friday on the K2 Radio web site with the headline: ‘Depression Is A Beast’: McMurry Family Vows Greater Mental Health Awareness After Mick’s Death:
Mick McMurry’s mental health rapidly declined after back surgery in February, which led to his suicide earlier this week, his daughter and a family spokesman said Friday.
“This is somebody who’d never been sick and never had taken much medicine, and it had an after-effect of some depression,” George Bryce said at a news conference at the home of Susie and Mick McMurry.
“Depression manifests itself in many different ways, and can sneak up on you,” Bryce said. “Some people that suffer from depression have a way of hiding it. And we knew that something wasn’t quite right, and we were kind of saying, ‘is that really Mick?,’ and then the next day it was really Mick,” he said.
“Depression is a beast that no one should have to face alone,” Trudi McMurry Holthouse said.
Holthouse said her father’s decline was quick after the surgery. Her father would refer to a gathering “black cloud,” yet he hid the symptoms well, she said.
“He’s so poised about himself and handling people,” Holthouse said. “The way I looked at it was just a change of heart like an enlightening was happening and he was coming to us with deep sorrow and grief,” Holthouse said.
The family supported him, but that apparently wasn’t enough, she said.
“It just got to be such a burden, he couldn’t bear it anymore, Holthouse said. “His body had never failed him like this before. He had never not had a clarity of mind, and his heart was just so heavy, but you know, we didn’t know, we didn’t know how heavy it was.”
Bryce, a trustee with the the McMurry Foundation, said mental health long has been the step-child of the overall health care system and people need to be more aware and aware of what’s happening in others’ lives.
The McMurry Foundation has supported mental health and depression awareness, but her father’s death will sharply change that because she wouldn’t wish that on anyone, Holthouse said.
“You can bet there will be some things that we will now be more focused on and take note to help more people. You just never know when someone is as desperate and destitute as that,” she said. “It will be a priority.”
Read more here: Family: Post-Surgery Depression Lead to McMurry's SuicideLet's all make a vow to improve mental health care in Wyoming. As I write this, my daughter is a patient at Wyoming Behavioral Institute (WBI) in Mick McMurry's home town of Casper. She is at WBI after spending four months at the Wyoming State Hospital and then a week at a group home in Douglas. She's been in and out of treatment centers since she was 14. She's made several suicide attempts. We want to keep her safe. We want her to get the correct treatment for her smorgasbord of mental health impairments. Not too much to ask, right?
In Wyoming, it may be.