‘That Truck is Going to be How I Get Through This’

Kevin Amundson

A well-worn pair of cowboy boots, size 13, and a 2003 Chevy Silverado, with a lift kit and mud tires, helped Kevin Amundson of New Prague, MN, heal after a “heart attack of the mind” led him to attempt suicide in September 2014.

Age 20, and suffering from undiagnosed depression, Kevin drove after work to his favorite childhood lake, called the sheriff with his location, and asked that his family be spared finding him. Then he shot himself through the bottom of the jaw with a rifle.

Kevin’s mom, Amy, calls it divine intervention that the sheriff sent up a helicopter immediately, and that Kevin fell backward onto the dock, instead of into the water.

What Amy wrote on Kevin’s CaringBridge website the day after he was saved still holds true: “We will not attempt to answer the question you will all be asking, which is, ‘Why?’ There is no answer we can offer that will satisfy that question for any of us. We can tell you he is a charming, funny, compassionate, and deeply loved young man, and we believe that neither God nor we are done with him yet.”

Based on the bullet’s path, Kevin should not be here today. Never mind talking, walking … or driving.

Kevin putting on his cowboy boots before driving off in his Chevy Silverado.

But after waking up in the ICU at North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis, nine days after the attempt, Kevin, a former member of the Army National Guard, said he purposely and consciously put himself on a path toward healing.

“I saw the pain and the suffering that the attempt caused my family and my friends,” he said. “I wasn’t taking my pain away like I thought. I was just putting it on other people.”

For inspiration, Kevin’s family taped to the foot of his hospital bed pictures of the pickup he had purchased a few months before the attempt. It was his baby.

He said: “Every time I would start to get down, I’d just look at the truck and remember, ‘That’s waiting for me. That’s going to be there for me. That’s going to be how I get through this.’”

Kevin with his mom, Amy, at the dock where he attempted to take his own life.

Neither Kevin nor his mom, his primary caregiver, wish to minimize the physical damage from which he has miraculously recovered. Or overlook that he will always be working toward having depression control less of his life.

But having Kevin get back in his cowboy boots was a big deal. And getting behind the wheel of that truck again, when doctors didn’t think it could happen, was even bigger.

Kevin said, “The fact that the truck is mine, and I can build it how I want it … that is an additional piece of healing.”

Amy offers a different perspective, three years after the worst experience of her life.

She said, “If being open and talking about how he felt, and what he struggled with, and the things he went through, has the ability to save another person, then the struggle and pain all had a purpose. That is healing for Kevin, and for all of us.”

Note: We can all help prevent suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Dial 1-800-273-8255. The Amundson Family also supports SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education), founded in Minnesota in 1979. Dial 1-800-273-8255.

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

Watch Videos by Kevin Amundson:

Kevin: Before Attempting Suicide, Think of All Who Care

Kevin: Depression Will Never Go Away, But Never Stop Fighting

Comments (7)

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L.Dionne May 05, 2018 10:02am
If you have the opportunity google & watch ‘Do it for Daniel’. A story about a local family in the U.P. Of Michigan who lost their son and star quarterback to depression but is on a mission to educate highschool students about this affliction.
Dale Joyce May 03, 2018 8:22pm
God was watching over you. You have more to give in this crazy world we live. You,my friend are meant to be here. God bless you
Chrismar Ballack Nov 29, 2017 1:35am
Wow, what a testimony you have of your life amd how God is there for you and your family. Be blessed with God's love and grace for you and your family.
Eliza’s Mom Oct 29, 2017 10:52pm
Divine intervention is such a blessing. My daughter tried the same thing... at age 11. She missed every major organ except a kidney. It has not been quite 2 years, but I know God has big plans for her. Depression is no joke and affects people of all ages.
DJ Oct 11, 2017 2:02pm
Kevin, I came across your caring bridge site by accident, but I think God played a part in it. I have been depressed most of my life. I don't plan on taking my life, but if I do starts to show of a disease that took many lives of my family. My parents are gone,my sister is gone, I have no family. I do have a great husband, and a daughter who is adopted. Geez I must be depressing you.SORRY! You inspire me. SMILE
Melissa Oct 08, 2017 7:59am
My husband tragically ended his life nearly 4 months ago. The invasive thoughts took hold and convinced him we would be better off without him; that is so far from the truth it becomes mind numbing to even attempt to process. He left behind a family reeling in pain asking the “why”. We miss him every second of everyday. The pain is immeasurable for us as we continue on in this life without him. Thank you for sharing your story so openly and honestly. It makes my heart smile knowing that God has other plans for you, Kevin, big plans. Don’t ever give up on yourself; your story is unfinished. May God continue to bless you and your family.
Sherrill in WA Oct 06, 2017 12:26am
I'm really glad you're still here to tell your story. You'll help many others with your honesty. Thank you and God bless.