Home » Denver Veteran Survives Suicide Attempt, Now Helping Others
Denver Featured Global News News Social World News

Denver Veteran Survives Suicide Attempt, Now Helping Others

DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver veteran miraculously survived a suicide attempt and is now sharing his story in hopes of reaching other veterans who may be struggling with their own mental health.

Zach Tidwell is sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. His journey of silently struggling with severe depression is one he’s very transparent about. The veteran spent nearly two months in the hospital and underwent facial reconstruction surgery, but lives to tell.

Tidwell enlisted in the U.S. Marines and served as a machine gunner for four years. He didn’t experience combat but was deployed overseas twice, leaving his loved ones behind.

“You get on a ship and float around the Pacific,” Tidwell said. “It was essentially as a deterrent in case Kim Jong-un did something crazy. We trained with the Australians and completed missions.”

After deployment, a return to heartbreak, pain

The trigger of Tidwell’s trauma started when he returned back home.

“I was married to my high school sweetheart, and she was having an affair while I was on my second deployment,” Tidwell said.

In the midst of heartbreak and filing for divorce, Tidwell was involved in a horrific motorcycle accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

“Everything just went downhill after that,” Tidwell said.

He started experiencing severe depression and retired from the military in August 2018.

“A year and a half of continuous depression,” Tidwell said. “I couldn’t sleep after that. That’s when I really started to struggle, and it wasn’t something I could really do anything to get out of.”

Tidwell added that from the outside looking in, everything seemed fine to others. He was in school and was working at a local hospital but was suffering quietly. In 2019, at just 23 years old, the veteran hit a breaking point.

“March of 2019 is when I shot myself,” Tidwell said. “I shot myself between the eyes. Now I’m totally blind. I have no sense of smell. I’m deaf in my right ear.”

A second chance at life

But he lives to tell, and some would say Tidwell has a second chance at life. Since the attempted suicide, Tidwell has learned to code and created a special app, bought a home, went back to school and participates in adaptive sports like snowboarding and rock climbing.

Just last month, the thrill-seeker went indoor skydiving with Wounded Warrior Project. The veteran organization’s adaptive iFly event is an opportunity that strives to connect disabled veterans in an empowering environment.

All flyers were given a jumpsuit to wear over their clothes and asked to wear earplugs, goggles and wristbands before jumping into a massive wind tunnel. Tidwell said he was tandem skydiving when he was 18 years old and wanted to again, so this was a perfect way to test it out with his disability.

“It was really, really neat. It was fun,” Tidwell said. “A great way to gain independence and bond with others who have suffered.”

Healing, recovery require communication

It’s not all fun and games. It’s been a very long road of healing and recovery for Tidwell as he still deals with bouts of depression and adjusting to a disability. However, he shares his story in hopes of helping anyone in need and offers a key piece of advice: communication.

“Talking with a therapist. If you go to the VA (Veterans Affairs hospital), it doesn’t cost you anything. Go talk to a therapist. It’s painful to talk about, but having a third party that’s removed from your life, that’s helped me the most,” Tidwell said. “That tends to be the case across the military, like hey, suffer in silence. But it takes a lot of strength to go somewhere and admit that you need help and ask for it and show up when you’re supposed to be there and do the work.”

In 2020, there were over 6,100 veterans who died by suicide — that’s about 17 people per day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

If you or a loved one needs help, call 988 to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, call 988 and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line or text SAVE to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

Source: KDRV News