Pine Belt man hopes to inspire others battling depression

BEAUMONT, MS (WDAM) - A Pine Belt man hopes to use his story of overcoming depressing and battling suicide to help others.

"Depression is the hardest thing in the world that anyone could want to live with," said 63-year-old Bobby Odem from Beaumont. "It has just about killed me, a couple of times it came close."

Odem lives alone with his dog Penny in Beaumont. In his spare time, he likes to build boats to help pass the time.

But he said for a long time a cloud flew over his head.

"You see the past was catching up with the front of me and that was bad," Odem said. "It's like a cloud over my head."

Odem said he's experienced several breakdowns in the past until one, day things almost took a turn for the worse.

"I was on the phone with my sister and she's really religious, good girl," Bobby said. "We were talking, and I was so depressed. I was so hurt. I was at my end."

He said his sister then called the police. During that time, Bobby said his neighbor just so happened to stop by.

"He asked my to go into town with him and something just told me, "Bobby, go to town with him," he said.

When he returned, Bobby said he found several officer waiting at his home.

He said since that day, he's continued to receive professional help. Bobby said he is diagnosed with Bipolar and Depression.

Writing down his problems has helped him cope with his depression. He also says his medication has been his lifeline.

"I was at my worst days without medication," Odem said. "I mean bad."

Even though he's doing better now, he still lives with his depression from the past.

"I'm doing a lot better now," Bobby said. "From one to 10, I'm about 7-in-a-half or eight. I still can look back and see how close I came to death two or three times, but I'm glad I didn't do it."

He said he wants to use his story to help others from going down the same road. He wants those struggling with depression to realize that suicide is not the answer.

"You've hurt all your relatives," Odem said. "You've hurt all your friends. You've hurt your kids and grand-babies. You've hurt them all. That stopped me a couple of times."
 
Nowadays, Bobby said he spends his time working to keep kindness in his heart and encourage anyone with suicidal thoughts to get help.

"Don't feel like people are going to make fun of you or talk about, I don't," Odem said. "I don't let it bother me because I live my own life. I get up and I put one leg at a time in my pants and I put one boot on at time. I take care of Bobby, especially now."

According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and has increased in almost every state. Here in Mississippi, suicide rates have increased in recent years by over 17-percent.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Mitzi Spears with the Shafer Crisis Center Intervention Center said loved ones of suicidal victims need to be aware of behavioral signs from the victim.

"You know, often what I hear from families after a suicide attempt or after a completed suicide is, 'I really never thought they would do it. I really had no idea. They said some things but I just didn't believe them,'" Spears said

According to the CDC, 54 percent of people who have died by suicide did not have a known mental condition.

Spears said if you are concerned for a loved one, the best thing you can do for them is ask them directly if they are considering suicide and then immediately seek professional help.

"There's so much to consider when someone reaches that point," Spears said. "I believe that people really don't want to die. They want the pain to end and that they can reach out and they can let people in. People can help them find ways to get pain to stop without having to take their lives which sets up pain for their children and their families."

If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).