On April 10, Kevin Watts, who lived on Franklin Road in Nashville, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was thirty-two years old. Friends report that Watts had suffered a number of setbacks in recent months, and that they noticed a change in his behavior.

Watts, an Arkansas native is survived by his father Mikle, mother Billinda, and brother Joseph, as well as extended family. He also had two beloved dogs, Dozier and Emily, whom friends and family are trying to place with loving homes. A public memorial was held on April 18.

Stanley Green, from Nashville, shared the following memory of Kevin: “One of the most recent memories was a couple of months ago, he called me to have dinner with him at the place Obama had dinner at…. His appearance had changed for the better, I thought to myself my old Kevin is back!  We had a wonderful time that night talking and carrying on about everything.  As the night went on we saw these two guys talking in sign language.  In true Kevin fashion, Kevin went over and introduced himself to them.  Next thing I knew, the two guys came over and sat at our table.  We pulled out our cell phones and started talking to them via text message.  Kevin even knew some sign languages.  Kevin was very attentive to them the whole time and made sure they saw our lips as we spoke and included them in our conversation.  That’s what I like about Kevin, he never met a stranger.  Kevin liked you for who you were, not what you looked like or how much money you had.”

Daniel Hawken, Kevin’s friend from Australia, expressed his sense of loss, sharing: “I don't know how my life will be without you now but thanks to you I have so many memories of drunken phone calls, funny texts messages, hand written letters and cards and all our gifts and photos that I will have you with me forever. I am so crushed this is the hardest loss I have ever come up against but I will live with the knowing that you, the most beautiful caring and gentle soul that you are, have now found peace in a place that is perfect. I know you will visit me, I think you did today.. When I was leaving your house in 2010 I said ‘Give me something of yours that is special to you’ and you went straight to your bedside table and gave me a vase your brother brought home from Iraq. For no reason today, I went and picked up that very vase, looked at it for a few moments then put it back down. An hour later I found out you had gone. Tonight I am moving our beautiful vase to my bedside where it will stay. I am going to miss answering my phone with you greeting me ‘Goodaye Bugga!!’ I love you forever Kevin, Danny xoxo”

In a much longer piece, Barbara Sanders, a Nashville-based counselor, offered the following advice to those who have survived Kevin, and other victims of suicide, affirming the many natural responses people have to such a loss:

“Recently, family and friends were shocked and stunned to find out that Kevin Watts had killed himself. What many people go through following a suicide includes much grief, sadness and also sometimes anger about the suicide. I want you to know that any feelings or thoughts that you are having about Kevin and his death are normal reactions to a tragic and horrifying situation. No one knows how they will react to a loved one’s death, especially not to a suicide….

“I am focusing on how the living can go on living, mourn and grieve death, and cope with such a tragedy. Family members and friends often beat themselves up about a suicide. They think they should have known it was going to happen and that they somehow could have prevented it. But, none of us are mind readers, we can’t always know what goes on inside even our closest loved ones.”

Family and Children’s Services in Nashville operates a weekly support group for survivors of suicide. More information about the Survivors of Suicide group is available at survivors.suicide@fcsnashville.org or (615) 244-7444.

For more information on suicide, its causes, and resources on suicide and mental illness, refer to any of the following agencies:

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network: (615) 297-1077 or www.tspn.org

Mental Health America: www.nmha.org

Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/safeusa/suicide.htm

American Association of Suicidology: www.suicidology.org

Suicide Prevention Resource Center: www.sprc.org

If you or a loved one are suicidal or severely depressed, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a counselor in your area.

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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