Suicide survivor to speak at benefit

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

Mitch Fleck

Mitch Fleck has never been a public speaker. The idea makes him nervous. But if it means he can spread suicide awareness, he’ll do it.

Fleck, of Haysville, will speak at the Locking Arms for Suicide Awareness Benefit on Sept. 11 at the Huntingburg Event Center. The annual benefit, which Dubois County native Kendra Nichols started in 2019, is sponsored by Survivors of Suicide of Dubois County.

Fleck has had suicidal thoughts nearly all his life — he can remember writing notes about it before he was even 6 years old. He’s survived multiple suicide attempts. He’s been on medication for depression and anxiety for years, but didn’t realize how much he wanted to heal until he woke up after trying to end his life with a handgun.

Earlier in the day, he had decided he wanted to overdose on alcohol. On the outside, he didn’t act much different. He went to the bar, but the bartender didn’t notice anything wrong. On the way home, he called his father and godmother, and they talked and laughed like usual.

He doesn’t remember the attempt itself but remembers being at a mental breaking point from stress and drama that surrounded him. His dad was working for the Jasper Police Department, so he was dispatched to the scene where he found his son collapsed on the driveway, losing blood.

“Right when I was about to give up, that’s when I was found,” Fleck said.

Throughout his recovery process, he had to have a tracheostomy and feeding tube. He had to practice his speaking and learn to walk again, which was especially difficult because his eyes had trouble focusing. It took even longer to try and heal his mind.

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, but men are more likely to attempt suicide, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Women are more likely to attempt by overdosing, whereas men are more likely to use a firearm. Nine out of 10 people who attempt with a firearm don’t survive.

“I want people to get help before they get to the point I was at,” Fleck said.

He never really thought he was addicted to alcohol but realized he had a problem when he wanted to use it to overdose. So one day, he decided he wanted to stop, and hasn’t picked up a drink since. He’s been sober for more than a year now.

He leans on his loved ones for support, especially his fiancee, Amanda Aldridge.

“She’s a big game changer of mine, just with me being able to appreciate my current self,” he said. “She was the first woman to see my scars, hear my speech, see me eat, and it didn’t bother her one bit.”

He’s changed his mental habits, too. One of his go-to beliefs is that a busy mind is a happy mind — even just going for a walk or reading a book can help distract. He likes to work through his problems in the back of his mind while he stays distracted on the forefront.

Fleck also wants people to know there are likely more resources out there than most realize. Many know about the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8255), but places such as churches and addiction support groups can be a great source of help, too, he said. The September benefit will also provide more resources.

There’s no simple solution to preventing suicide. But if there’s anything Fleck can do to help others who have been where he’s been, then he’s in.

For a link to purchase tickets to the Sept. 11 event, visit its Facebook page, @LockingArmsforSuicideAwareness.




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