Virginia Beach family’s story sheds light on suicide


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) –  It’s been said the best thing about walking is the journey itself.  Steve and Kym Bach of Virginia Beach began a different path four years ago because of their son Evan Collins: a young EMT who loved skateboarding, with a passion.

“He would try the same trick over and over again until he landed it,” said Steve Bach.

Kym Bach also fondly recalled her physically active son with the heart of a daredevil, “I’d say ‘Evan come on!  You’re gonna get yourself hurt!’  He says mom, ‘You just got to live life.'”

Those five words state a paradox of Evan’s philosophy that has haunted the Bachs since one day four years ago.  Steve’s smile that framed a nostalgic recall of his son faded into a new a depth of sadness. “It was probably the worst day of my entire life, because I really did not see it coming at all.”

It started when Evan came home.

“Things weren’t working out with his girlfriend and he just decided it was over.”

Kym and Steve were running an errand, then Kym heard from her daughter at home.

“Yeah, she called me and said ‘Mom, it’s Evan’ and she hung up. And then, so I’m calling back and I can’t get him. I can’t get her. Finally she answers, and says ‘Mom I heard gunshots.'”

Evan Collins was only 20 years old.

It’s a pain the Bachs carried with them since that day, and it’s why they sought help from a local support group Survivors of Suicide. The Bachs say talking with other people who have been through this dark journey has helped them cope, but four years later, Steve shakes his head, “How do you understand about someone who’s going to kill themselves?” It’s a question tens of thousands of families ask every year, and it’s why the Bachs won’t walk that journey alone.  Some five thousand people will walk with them Saturday, and for the first time, the Bachs will share stories of their son’s struggles as part of the program.

Chris Gilchrist is a licensed clinical social worker who organizes the yearly “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” at Mt. Trashmore.  She says 90 percent of those who kill themselves struggle with a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, namely depression.

“So when we recognize and put those facts together, we see the relationship between depression and suicide. Then we feel hope. We’re empowered, because there is something that we can do. Depression is treatable.”

Steve recalled how angry he was at his son Evan shortly after he killed himself, but later came to recognize the illness behind the act.

“On the surface it seems like you’re being selfish, but you have to remember that depression is a disease of the mind.”

The Out of The Darkness walk in Virginia Beach is September 12 at Mt. Trashmore. Click here for more information on the walk.

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