Sharing story of survival, metro woman helps others struggling with depression regain hope

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. -- Johnson County said there’s been a spike in suicides over the last few years, and the director said the county is taking National Suicide Prevention Week very seriously.

Rebecca Shunck shared her survival story with FOX 4’s Megan Dillard. Shunck said, “I don’t think it gets any darker than that. It’s what I call an absence of hope. You don’t believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Shunck said she saw only darkness.

“People don’t understand. They say things like, ‘Oh, can you snap out of it or why can’t you just be normal?’ I would’ve given anything to be normal for that decade that I lost,” Shunck said.

She said she attempted suicide dozens of times during a decade in her 20’s and 30’s.

“I just couldn’t get out of that downward spiral and nobody could really bring me out of it.”

She said her last suicide attempt was five years ago this month. “I got in the car and I turned it on and I waited in the garage to die.”

A friend called police and Shunck ended up in the hospital, but she said she knew something absolutely had to change.

With tears, Shunck remembers rock bottom.

“Please help me because I want to die and I don’t know what to do to get out of this; it was so hard to find a way out.”

Doctors adjusted her medication and she spent time in therapy, and after awhile, her time within the walls at the Johnson County Mental Health Center began to change.

“I never thought that was possible. I was a patient! I was a client. I was a disaster. And now I’m an employee!”

Director Tim DeWeese said stories of saved lives like Shunck’s start with open dialogue.

“The best thing that anyone can do is just simply ask the question. Are you thinking about suicide or about killing yourself? The more that you can talk about something, the more that you can educate yourself and educate the community, then you have less stigma,” he said.

Shunck now uses conversation as a tool.

“I get to talk to people about what I’ve been through. And that’s probably one of the most significant things that will ever happen in my life,” she said.

The woman who once thought she had no purpose here, no reason to live, has maybe found light at the end of the tunnel after all.

“All you have to do is ask for help and you will get it. And if you can get help and you can accept it, you can be anything you want to be. Anything," she said.

Resources:
National Suicide Prevention Week.

Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

--The coalition passed out “tool kits” with suicide prevention posters and resources to every high school in Johnson County

-- The coalition gave 500 magnetic bumper stickers to law enforcement agencies in Johnson County with the following information:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741