Mother recounts son's suicide to help reduce stigma for others

Drew Hobbs (Family photo)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - An Indianapolis mother is talking about her son's suicide hoping to take the stigma out of asking for help when you're suicidal.

"It's just with you all the time. You just carry it with you," said Paula Hobbs, talking about the pain a parent has when your child takes his own life.

"I don't want people to judge him for the moment, for the decision he made at that moment, because that's not who he was as a person. He was a happy person. He was a good student. He was a good son," said Hobbs of her 23-year-old son Drew, who took his own life last October.

Hobbs was a senior at Ball State with plans to be a commissioned officer in the United States Army after being in ROTC and already going through basic training. When anxiety and depression hit, though, Paula says Drew was afraid to take medication prescribed to him.

"He believed wholeheartedly it was going to affect whether he would get commissioned or not and that's what he wanted more than anything was to be commissioned as an officer," said Paula.

She said Drew tried to fight through it on his own, calling a suicide hotline once and even 911, after which he was taken to the hospital emergency room.

Paula Hobbs with her son Drew. (Family photo)
Paula Hobbs with her son Drew. (Family photo)

"They asked me one question. They asked me one question, 'Do you have a gun?' And I said, 'No,' and he said, 'He can go home with you'," Hobbs said. "They didn't even give us any information about a clinic to go to or anything. They literally just sent him right out the door.

"I feel like they didn't see him for what he was truly suffering from," Paula said.

Paula said she tried to get Drew help on her own, but it was hard to get him in to see a doctor because clinics had long waiting lists.

Three months later, Drew killed himself.

"I think if they had admitted him and he had some treatment, he would be here with me," said Paula.

Now, she's left only with memories.

"He was able to make people feel better, but he wasn't able to make himself feel better. He needed help," said Paula.

She hopes Drew's story can serve as a wake-up call to those dealing with suicidal people.

"I think protocols need to change. I think attitudes need to change," said Paula, who hopes change can come sooner rather than later before more people lose their lives and more families lose people they love.

Eyewitness News has been raising awareness about suicide prevention Monday through stories and talking about resources available at HaveHope.com. That website is available 24 hours a day for people who are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide.

Community Health Network is also responding to the many people reaching out as a result of the awareness effort.