Widow chooses to open dialogue about mental illness after husband's death

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) - It's the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.  But despite that fact, many people remain undiagnosed and untreated for depression.  The widow of a man who recently lost his life to suicide shared her story about what her husband endured in order to bring awareness to mental illness and help people silently suffering.

"Sometimes I feel like I can't breathe," Mickala Ramirez described her loss.

Wednesday, October 4 will never be the same for Ramirez. It's the day she lost her husband Jay Klingel.

"He got up. He took a shower. He got ready for the day like it was any other day," she recalled.

But it was a day unlike any other. It's the day Ramierz told NewsChannel 6 her husband had reached his breaking point. She said he called her from downtown Augusta after attending classes at Augusta University. He was in a panic and telling her he couldn't do it anymore. She rushed downtown and that's when she found the 25-year-old had taken his life.  It was a life he most recently dedicated to service.

"He was in for three years," she recalled. "He served in the United States Marine Corps. He was stationed up in Camp LeJune for a little while."

Ramirez said Klingel separated from the military due to a blood clot in 2014. The two married two years later. But during that time there was an internal struggle brewing within Klingel.

She added, "He was starting to struggle a little bit with anxiety, especially when he got out. It was when he got out I started noticing a lot more of his anxiety. That's when I started to see a little more of his depression."

And though he was never clinically diagnosed, Ramirez believes he also had PTSD.

"I feel like he felt like he lost his sense of purpose not really knowing where to go or what to do from that point," she said.

Ramirez came forward in just a short time of losing her husband because she said she wanted to share the signs of depression and what could have been PTSD.  She also wants others to know how to find help.

"He did have anxiety so he would fidget a lot. He was [an introvert]. I did notice at one point he did seclude himself and stop talking to everyone. At one point he hardly even spoke to me," Ramirez said.

She made note that her husband made appointments to see his doctor, but they were canceled several times before he was able to get medical attention.

"There are places like the vet center that can help you find counseling. We didn't know about places like the Augusta Warrior Project, which also helps veterans all over the CSRA find resources they need to get back into school and help for mental things," she said.

Ramierz said services for her husband have already taken place and now the family is trying to get through the process.

Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins


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