SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WKRG) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Tonight, we are focusing on a serious problem in our community…suicide. Pastor Richard Ullo and his wife, Sharon, shared the story of their son, Adam, who killed himself on March 16, 2015.
At Bible Baptist Church in Spanish Fort, the congregation looks to Pastor Richard Ullo for answers, but he was the one left speechless when his twenty-four-year-old son committed suicide.
“It was my wife’s birthday, and while we were on our way home, our daughter called us, and said, ‘Dad I think Adam has taken his own life.'”
The Ullos said they knew Adam was struggling, but not to that severity.
“There was never anything that made me feel like I was worried for him or concerned for him,” Sharon said.
Adam had suffered a brain bleed a few years earlier from a snow-skiing accident. They said even though he was cleared by doctors, he never was the same. He had dropped out of college. However, he was on a positive track and had started a production company for missionaries.
“We did not recognize it in our own son, and take action. I would venture to say, that is one of our greatest regrets, as far as he is concerned,” Pastor Ullo said. Ullo goes on to say that ultimately Adam made the decision to kill himself. As hard as it is, they are getting better at not blaming themselves for his death.
Counselor Kari Whatley with the Equine Therapy Group says it’s so important to ask someone if they are hurting, even if you have to pry. She says don’t beat around the question. Ask it: “Are you planning on killing yourself?”
“Just talking with someone and being really straight with them saying, ‘I am worried you are going to hurt yourself,’ can go so far,” Whatley said.
Whatley says there are resources available in the community for those who need someone to talk to. You can reach her here.
The Ullos hope no family has to experience what they have, but they hope their story will encourage other families to keep the lines of communication open to prevent a tragedy.