Drug and alcohol addiction can lead to suicide; parents mourn son's death

Published: Jan. 24, 2019 at 6:51 PM EST
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Thursday, January 24, 2019

News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – It's not an easy subject to talk about, but suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. A lot of times it's linked to addiction.

Health professionals says it's all about asking for help, or if you notice someone struggling or showing signs of things like withdrawal, lack of motivation or change in personality it may be time to get help.

"Everyday we wrestle with, what did we miss? What did we not do, and what should we have done?" Lee said.

Phillip and Terry Lee are coping with the loss of their first born Phillip Lee Junior. He was a son, a brother and a loved musician.

Phillip committed suicide just four months ago.

"I saw the substance abuse and had many conversations with Phillip about that as a worrying mother and as a nurse," Terry said.

Terry says from the very first use, substances are altering your brain chemistry. That's why you often see a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental illness.

It's what happened to Phillip.

"There is hope and there is care for people who are dealing with mental illness and with substance abuse disorders, there is hope," Terry said.

Studies show more than 90% of people who fall victim to suicide suffer from depression, have a substance abuse disorder, or both.

"It is preventable if you will reach out to someone and ask for help," Terry said.

When people do overdose, it's gotten to the point where even pharmacies are selling Narcan with no prescription needed.

"The increase of overdoses and deaths prompted law makers to say hey we need to re-look at this, and we need to make this more available to the public," said Johnathan Drew, a pharmacist at Parks Pharmacy.

The Lee's want to encourage you to help fight the addiction before it gets to reversing the overdose with Narcan.

Moving forward, the Lee's have their memories and Phillip's writing. Terry reads the last page and entry of Phillips rehab journey,

"It says, I pray you use my complete and utter brokenness and mess to show your power and your ability to bring the lost home in a true comeback story."

These parents are making it their mission to keep others from going through the same pain they are. They're planning on going around to different schools and telling Phillips story. Terry also plans to teach a class on mental health first aid. Her goal is to get a least one person in each household to have the tools to recognize someone in a mental health crisis.

You can find Phillip Lee Jr.'s music here -

Resources available for suicide prevention -​