Bridgette Marshall, wife of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, died by suicide on June 24. Her cause of death was confirmed by AL.com on June 27.
According to reports, Murfreesboro, Tennessee authorities were called to an apartment around 7:45 a.m on June 24 by one of Bridgette’s relatives who said she was “making suicidal statements.”
— AL.com (@aldotcom) June 24, 2018
When police arrived at the apartment complex and were let in by the property manager, they found Bridgette passed away on the couch.
Bridgette leaves behind her husband and their daughter, Faith.
Steve held a press conference on Wednesday following his wife’s unexpected passing. As AL.com reports, he addressed a room of reporters and explained how tough the last few days had been.
He stressed that he preferred to remember Bridgette by how she lived her life rather than how she died.
Steve revealed that Bridgette had been living separately from him in order to seek “quiet refuge.” From the time Bridgette was a child, she suffered from mental illness.
According to her husband, the 45-year-old began suffering from severe migraines as a child. As a result of the medication she was taking for the pain, Bridgette ended up developing an addiction to opioids.
Her personal battles ultimately led to her leaving home. Steve said they talked on the phone every day.
The last time Steve saw Bridgette was the last time he saw Bridgette happy. It was her birthday, June 6, and the day was filled with joy. Sadly, immediately following that day, Bridgette’s demeanor changed and her health declined. Bruises and blisters formed on her feet.
“It was odd, it was strange. We didn’t know what it was; she didn’t know what it was. And so Saturday night after she sent a picture to a lot of people saying ‘What is this? And why is this going on?’ Her parents talked to her and I talked to her and we convinced her to go to the hospital the next day. And she said she would go.”
Bridgette’s parents called her the following day, Sunday, to tell her they were coming down to take her to the hospital. But she told them she wouldn’t be alive when they got to her:
“They called [Bridgette] Sunday morning and she said, ‘I won’t be alive when you get here.’ Bridgette’s mom called me and told me and I said, ‘Let me talk to her.’ I got on the phone with her and I was talking to a person who didn’t have any hope. She said, ‘I don’t have any purpose and I’m tired. My body’s failing me and I don’t know why. I’ve had pain for a long time and I don’t want to endure it anymore and I’m just a burden.’ And I told her why she wasn’t and told her she was loved. And as a guy who, professionally, is supposed to be able to convince people with words to do something, I couldn’t reach her.
She said, ‘I’m tired of being tired. And I just want to go. And she said, ‘Do you want to hear it?’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ And she hung up the phone.”
Steve admitted that he hopes to forget that conversation one day, so that he is left only with the memories of “what she did for others.”
He also revealed that he is now left with a lingering guilt— if he hadn’t held a public office, would his wife still be alive? He said:
“For me, I wonder whether or not if I wasn’t attorney general, would she still be alive? Whether I hadn’t chosen public service, would she still be here today? And I’ll be haunted by that for the rest of my life.”
Steve said that he wanted to share his truth and Bridgette’s story because he hopes it will help other people. He wants others who are feeling the way Bridgette felt on Sunday to know that there is hope and that it can get better.
According to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, signs that a loved one may be contemplating suicide include:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
Risk factors that could make it “more likely” for someone to consider suicide include:
- Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
- Alcohol and other substance use disorders
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical illnesses
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Family history of suicide
- Job or financial loss
- Loss of relationship(s)
- Easy access to lethal means
- Local clusters of suicide
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- Stigma associated with asking for help
- Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
- Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)
In the press conference, Steve shared a note Bridgette left for him on her birthday:
Steve, I knew you would pull this off. It was a great birthday gift I knew was coming. You are the man for the job in Alabama. I love you more than you will ever know and couldn’t be more proud how you handled it all as you always do with grace. I love you. Love, Bridgette.
He asked that the media allow him and his family to only celebrate her life from now on, rather than discussing her death.
He said that the woman who wrote that note is the one he will celebrate and the one whose life he will share with others.