Austin Weirich was a 20-year-old student at Wabash College, a prestigious liberal arts college in Indiana. He was a former football player, a class president, a scholarship winner, and a promising future lawyer. He had a bright future ahead of him, but on September 10, 2016, he took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His death shocked and saddened everyone who knew him, and raised questions about the causes and prevention of suicide among young men.
The Life of Austin Weirich
Austin Weirich was born on June 16, 1996, in Goshen, Indiana. He grew up in a loving and supportive family, with his parents, Leslie and Mark, and his younger sister, Morgan. He was a smart and talented kid, who excelled in academics, sports, and leadership. He graduated from Goshen High School in 2014, with a grade point average higher than 4.0, thanks to his weighted honors classes. He was the class president for all four years of high school, and he won several awards and scholarships, such as the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship and the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award.
He was also a star athlete, who played football, basketball, and baseball. He was a defensive end on the football team, and he helped his team win the sectional championship in his senior year. He was also a member of the National Honor Society, the Student Council, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Key Club. He was active in his church and his community, and he volunteered for various causes and organizations.
He enrolled at Wabash College in 2014, where he majored in economics and minored in business. He continued to play football for two seasons, as a defensive end and a defensive tackle. He was also involved in campus programs and activities, such as the Wabash Acts Responsibly Council, which focused on mental health and other issues. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and he had many friends and mentors. He had plans to attend law school after graduation, and he had already secured an internship at a law firm.
The Death of Austin Weirich
Austin Weirich seemed to have a happy and successful life, but he also struggled with depression and anxiety, which he hid from most people. He had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder, and he had been prescribed medication and therapy. However, he did not always follow his treatment plan, and he sometimes self-medicated with alcohol and marijuana. He also suffered from concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head injuries, which can affect mood, behavior, and cognition.
On September 10, 2016, World Suicide Prevention Day, Austin Weirich took his own life in his apartment in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he lived with his fraternity brothers. He left behind a note, in which he apologized to his family and friends, and expressed his love for them. He also wrote that he felt hopeless and worthless, and that he could not bear the pain anymore. He asked for forgiveness and understanding, and he said that he hoped to see them again in heaven.
His death was a shock and a tragedy for his family, friends, college, and community, who mourned his loss and celebrated his life. His funeral was held on September 15, 2016, at the First United Methodist Church in Goshen, Indiana, and his burial was at the Violett Cemetery in Goshen. His legacy lives on through his work and his impact, and he is remembered as a bright and kind young man.
The Prevention of Suicide
Austin Weirich’s death was one of the three suicides that occurred at Wabash College in the past four years, and one of the many suicides that happen among young men in the United States and around the world. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 34, and men are nearly four times more likely to die by suicide than women. Suicide is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, that can be influenced by biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors. Some of the common risk factors for suicide include mental illness, substance abuse, trauma, stress, isolation, and access to lethal means.
Suicide is not inevitable, however, and it can be prevented. There are many signs and symptoms that can indicate that someone is at risk of suicide, such as changes in mood, behavior, and appearance, expressions of hopelessness, guilt, or worthlessness, withdrawal from family, friends, or activities, giving away possessions, making plans or arrangements, and talking about death or suicide. If someone notices these signs in themselves or others, they should seek help immediately, by contacting a mental health professional, a crisis hotline, or a trusted person. There are also many resources and strategies that can help prevent suicide, such as medication, therapy, support groups, education, awareness, and advocacy.
Suicide is not a crime, it is not a sin, and it is not a weakness. It is a tragedy that can be avoided, and a public health issue that can be addressed. By breaking the stigma and the silence around suicide, by reaching out and offering support to those who are suffering, and by promoting hope and healing to those who are surviving, we can save lives and honor the memory of those who are gone.