by DESIREE MENDEZ//Staff Writer
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This contains true stories about the affects of suicide and sexual assault. The article maybe a trigger for some who have experienced or are experiencing similar situations. No names have been changed. These are real people sharing their experience to raise awareness.]
Suicide is a serious topic that tends to be only talked about behind closed doors, or not talked about at all.
“I’ve been dealing with suicidal thoughts since I was 13 years old,” said Ashley Duran. “I’ve never felt like I belong, like I was never good enough.”
Duran has a past filled with physical, sexual, mental, and emotional abuse. She always tried running from her memories, whether it be through drinking, abusing drugs, self-harm, and even attempting to take her own life. Duran says she has attempted suicide more times than she can count.
The last time was on July 21, 2013. She doesn’t remember much of what happened, except that she was too tired to care. Duran says she was too tired to live and face the pain of her past and present.
“I was tired of being a burden, tired of people constantly looking over their shoulder, because they were worried,” said Duran, a Levelland resident.
She began to shut down because of depression. Because of her depression and suicidal thoughts, she made the choice to be admitted into a psychiatric unit in 2013, because she knew if she didn’t that she would continue to attempt taking her life until she succeeded.
This cycle is vicious. Even though even after almost four years, sometimes suicide still crosses her mind. Every day, Duran deal with ups and downs. Sometimes she doesn’t want to get out of bed, and feels like dying.
“I just want the emotional pain to end,” said Duran. “I take medication. I talk to my friends, and family. I try to work through it. That is all I can really do.”
When Duran was in the hospital in 2013, she met one of the most loving people, who became one of the most important people in her life. She was someone who was facing her own battles, and, to say the least, understood what it was like to be at such a low point in life.
However, she would never let Duran do the same for her. She was a lost cause; her mind had already been made up. As Duran started to recover, she became worried. She wanted this person, who had given her so much hope, to find that same hope and fight. Duran begged and pleaded for days at a time. It was then that Duran saw herself through her friend, and it hit her hard.
“I had finally felt what it was like to be on the other side of the road,” said Duran.
On July 21, 2015, that person who had come to mean so much, who had helped Duran through one of the darkest times in her life, decided to take her own life. Duran says that she will never be able to explain the pain and anger she felt that day.
“Pain that I still feel to this day,” said Duran. “For the first time in my life, I saw things not from the inside, but rather from the outside – from the other side. I will never be able to express how sorry I am, sorry for everything I have put my loved ones through.”
Duran has been married to Andrew Duran for 14 years. He has known her since she was 12 years old.
“I’ve been with her since the beginning, through all the good and bad,” said Andrew Duran. “At first, I didn’t know how emotionally torn she was. It was a typical high school relationship.”
Even after they got married and finished school, things seemed normal. He knew about her past. But at the time, it wasn’t something that came out openly as a problem. Andrew knew that she had tried to kill herself before, and he witnessed her inflict self-harm on herself. But it wasn’t tying into what would later be a bigger picture.
Then they had their son, Drayvin. After a few months, Ashley was suffering from postpartum depression, yet things seemed normal. It wasn’t until they had their daughter, Atavynn, that she actually broke. Something inside her broke.
Andrew watched helplessly as the young woman he loves so much, who was so caring, loving and free-spirited, was shackled by depression, anxiety and suicidial thoughts. She lost her spirit, and worst of all, her hope.
It was all boiled up until she tried to take her life.
“I was devastated and heartbroken that I could do nothing to make her feel happy enough to want to live,” said Andrew. “Even our children had no effect on this outcome.”
To this day, it is a daily struggle. They are not a normal family. They live life to try make it the best for Ashley.
Some things will trigger Ashley’s anxiety or depression, and all they can do is try their best to be supportive and make the situation better.
“Things are better,” said Andrew, “but I will never be able to get the thought out of my mind that I could possibly come home and find Ashley dead. It’s a daily struggle, and I take it as is, one day at a time. Tomorrow is not promised, and the fact that she is still here gives me hope.”
One of the things that Andrew lives by, and truly believes, comes from his favorite movie, “The Crow.”
“Love Never Dies” When someone dies, you remember the things they loved and when you lose someone or something -that love you have for them will never die,” said Andrew. “If anything, it will only grow stronger. For people who are struggling with suicide, what better gift can you give to them than love? Who knows? It just might make a difference.”
Sandra Smith, Duran’s mother, mentioned there’s just no sugarcoating the trauma that disables your child’s life.
“Years passed and by now you become numb to the haunting memories, just when you thought you had done everything in your existence to protect your own child, you learn that the giant has attacked her in the worst possible way,” said Duran. “It has entertained her with suicidal thoughts.”
Smith lives day by day wondering if it’s the day her daughter will take her life because the rapist had no heart, or the molester had no conscience.
Duran said she was sexually assaulted by family members when she was 12. She says she was molested by a different family member when she was 11. She also said she was molested when she was 5 or 6, but doesn’t remember the age because she blocked the memory.
“My pain cannot compare to the mental debilitating thoughts that my daughter has to deal with every day,” Smith said. “No amount of therapy can bring back her peace. No doctor can bind her wounds. Nothing you say is comforting. You can’t tell her to forget it and move on, for it is impossible to purge a memory of a grave trauma. Everything you do will never be enough.”
Duran then met Andrea (Dre) Corrales, her longtime friend.
“Since the very first day I met Ashley, I felt a connection to her,” said Corrales. “It was in that moment I knew I wanted her in my life.”
As they got to know each other better, it was very apparent to Corrales that her friend had a rough life.
“I don’t know if I would’ve had the strength she was able to muster, and at such a young age,” said Corrales. “As time went on, our friendship grew stronger.”
Corrales tries to educate herself, so that she is able to help Duran when she has one of her bad days.
“Duran was dealt a horrific hand, but she has managed to do her best with what she has,” said Corrales. “That’s true strength to me, and in the midst of all the craziness, she also managed to bring awareness and educate me about mental health issues.”
Despite all the odds that were stacked against her, Duran finished Cosmetology school in December of 2014, and graduated from SPC that following May 2015.
If anyone you or anyone you know have thoughts about suicide, please seek help. There are many resources out there such as, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number, 1-800-273-8255, Crisis Text Line Text 741741, http://www.crisistextline.org, or the Health and Wellness Center on the SPC campus.
[Photo by DESIREE MENDEZ/PLAINSMAN PRESS]