DALLAS -- When a family member or friend commits suicide, those around them are 65% more likely to attempt suicide. This is called suicide contagion.
Terry Bentley Hill knows those stats firsthand.
“It is so devastating, the loss of a loved one to any kind of death. But with a suicide death, it is almost impossible to grieve because it is so complicated,” Terry told NewsFix.
Her husband, an attorney, hit rock bottom, dealing with alcoholism and depression.
“Danny got to the point where things had gotten out of hand. He was having car accidents, he had a removal suit against him, and it was affecting our marriage. It was affecting our family. And so, he had gotten to the point where on Palm Sunday of 1995, for whatever reason, he made the decision that night he was going to die,” Terry said.
Danny shot himself. Their four daughters were asleep in their rooms.
“When Danny died that night, I was afraid the girls were going to come through the door and see their father. I went down the hall to my 5-year-old's room and she was sound asleep," Terry explained. "I just had this feeling that I was in the presence of God, that he had pulled his blanket up over these children to protect them from what was going on in the home."
They were now at a high risk for another suicide.
“One thing that is an absolute fact is when a parent suicides, it increases the chances of a child following in that parents footsteps. So this was something I was concerned about and sure enough that’s exactly what happened. My 14-year-old, my youngest daughter did take her life,” Terry said. “Halley was the youngest of our four daughters. She became depressed and we knew she was depressed and we had her in treatment. We had a doctor treating her, and I think that the depression just over took her, and she decided for whatever reason, perhaps, she needed to be with her father.”
Terry's mission now is to help families dealing with mental illness.
“That's the purpose of telling you today my story is hopefully, it will help someone else who is experiencing this or thinking about dying.”