Author Jeff Morris

I Am Grayson Murray

Before I start on why I picked the title “I Am Grayson Murray” for my first blog, I need to share a few things. First, I have never been a “blogger.” I have never written or commented on a blog. I think I have read a few, but I can assure you I am very apprehensive about putting this out into whatever we call this now…..Cyberspace? So please be kind as you judge my first attempt at this endeavor.

Second, I take a “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach to stuff like this. By that I mean that I just jump in an do it first and then learn as I go. This tends to drive people who are concerned about details CRAZY!!!!  Hopefully, you and others like you will help me get better at this.

Finally, I am starting the “Just Live” blog to both help people and help myself. I hope that this will be a place where people like you can come to learn, ask questions, vent, and feel like it is a safe place to talk about whatever struggles you or someone you love is going through. It is also therapeutic for me to talk about this stuff and what I go through as someone who has dealt with mental illness (I was diagnosed as bipolar 2 in 2000) for over forty years. 

So, why did I pick this title? You may not have had any idea who Grayson Murray was until recently. I did not know who he was until a few days ago. On May 25, 2024, it was announced that Grayson Murray had died suddenly. He was playing in the PGA Charles Schwab Challenge and had withdrawn the day before because of an “illness.” I really did not think much about his death other than he was really young (he was 30 years old). 

I saw a story on the ESPN website and read a bit about what his family said about his death the day it was announced. Although they did not mention a cause of death, I told my girlfriend that I was about 99% sure that Grayson had died by suicide. Tere asked me why I thought that and I said that I could just tell by what his family said about his life leading up to his death. 

I don’t recall exactly what his parents said about his life, but it was similar to things I have heard about others who have died from suicide. Things like:

  • He had struggled with his drinking when he was a younger player on the golf tour.
  • He had been very open about his battles with anxiety and depression.
  • He had struggled with his profession (playing golf) both physically and mentally.

There are two reasons why I think that I knew that Grayson’s death was a suicide a day before it was confirmed by his parents. The first reason is that I have done lots of research on suicide and suicide prevention over the last decade or so. My dissertation (which I hope to finally finish this summer) is about preventing suicide among young African-Americans. I have also been a certified suicide prevention trainer since 2010. 

The second and main reason that I knew that Grayson died by suicide is that I feel like I am very much like Grayson. By that, I mean that I could have easily died by suicide when I was thirty years old. 

I think I can relate a bit to Grayson and his struggles. On the outside, it sounds like he had everything. Obviously, he was a terrific golfer. He was playing on the PGA tour. He had just gotten engaged and had turned his life around by rediscovering his faith in God. Even with so much going for him and things in his life taking a turn for the best, he was apparently still battling with mental illness. 

I feel like I can relate to the pain that he had to be dealing with at the time leading up to his death. Feeling suicidal is hard to explain. It is unlike any illness I have ever experienced. There is no test you can run or x-ray to get to the root of the problem. The anxiety, despair, and hopelessness that I have felt when I have been suicidal is excruciating. It can be hard to express to someone just how bad you feel, but I think I have experienced what Grayson went through in his battle with mental illness.

Some may wonder how someone who is so young and talented could feel so bad they want to die? Mental illness is not selective. It does not happen just to poor people or unsuccessful people or people who have hit a rough patch in life. In fact, it is very possible that Grayson’s success as a golfer and other positive things that had happened to him recently actually made him feel worse. He might have wondered how someone with all his success, a new fiancé, and sobriety could still be depressed. That is like asking why someone with all those things happening could get pancreatic cancer. It can happen to anyone.

I was thirty years old the first time I attempted suicide. I can’t say that I had the same struggles that Mr. Murray had with addiction, but I think I have a good idea of the pain he was suffering with when it came to his mental illness. I was also fairly successful when I was thirty. I was in my third year as a school administrator and on my way to what looked to be a very successful career in education. I was married to a great woman, had a beautiful six-month old daughter, and lived in a big house on a golf course. Even with all of that going for me, I wanted to die. I thought about killing myself almost daily. Finally, on October 19, 1997, I attempted suicide for the first time. 

Luckily, I survived that attempt along with five others between 2002 and 2010. The main reason I am alive is that I am terrified of guns. If I owned a gun or had access to one, I am certain I would be dead. 

In the end, it really comes down to this. I was just lucky. I was lucky to survive trying to kill myself through carbon monoxide poisoning and drug overdoses. 

Over the last fifteen years or so, I have still struggled with depression. Being bipolar 2 means I don’t get the crazy, manic episodes that someone who is bipolar deals with. My manic episodes are much more subtle……which I am thankful for. My demons still come around here and again, but not nearly as often.

I have not attempted suicide in almost fifteen years. I have thought about it a few times, but not very often. I can probably count on one hand the times it has crossed my mind or I have thought about a plan since 2010. 

The key for me has been accepting mental illness as part of who I am. Kind of like someone with diabetes becoming good and dealing with their illness by taking their insulin and changing their diet, I have done something similar with depression.

I have a great support system with my girlfriend, parents, my children, my brothers, Matt and Jerrod, and many great friends. I am pretty open about my struggles and when I am feeling down. I encourage people close to me that it is ok to check on me and ask how I am feeling. 

My hope is that this blog will be a place that all of us can use to help prevent other like Grayson Murray losing such a difficult battle. My hope for Grayson and his family is that they at least can take solace in knowing that he is no longer in pain anymore.