It all started over a fight about cold pizza on the morning of January 22, 2001. My husband’s favorite food was pizza; when we got married, he informed me that buying pizza needed to be a line item in our monthly budget. The night before we had eaten his favorite at Pizza Hut, but what he really loved was eating the leftovers cold for breakfast the next morning. However, we had gotten home late the night before, and in the rush of trying to put our five-year-old daughter to bed and getting to bed myself (I was four months pregnant), I had hastily set the leftover pizza on the kitchen counter and forgot to go back and put it in the fridge.
Troy and I both woke up early that morning as Troy had to catch a bus to get to St. Maries for a wrestling tournament. At the time, he was the head wrestling coach for Kellogg High School, and I was driving down early as well to help with the computer program that ran the wrestling tournament. St. Maries was where Troy and I had grown up together our whole lives, so we were both looking forward to seeing our friends and family. But when he went to the kitchen to quickly grab the cold pizza for breakfast, he discovered that it was no good since it had sat out on the kitchen counter all night. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or the stress of the tournament because my husband marched back to our bedroom where I was getting ready and chewed me out for ruining his breakfast. Normally my husband was the sweetest, most patient person I knew, so this was out of character for him. I offered to quickly make him something else, but instead, he barked back again and stormed out of the house without even saying goodbye. Again this was very out of character for him as we always said goodbye with a hug and a kiss and greeted each other in the same manner every day.
I finished getting ready after he left, grabbed our sweet little girl out of bed, and headed to St. Maries in my car. Ashley was half-awake in the back seat so that gave me plenty of time to go over and stew about our argument in my mind as I drove down the highway I had driven hundreds of times before. As I rounded a corner, I was forced from my thoughts as I noticed a bus on the side of the road. I remember saying out loud, “Oh my gosh, a bus crashed. Oh my god, that’s our bus!”
I immediately pulled to the side of the road only to discover I was the first one at the scene of the accident. The team’s beloved bus driver had suffered a massive heart attack and had died instantly while driving the bus. As the bus began to swerve and go off of the road, Troy and one of his wrestlers had run to the front of the bus to try to keep it from crashing. It all happened too fast, and the bus ran into a tree. Upon impact, the engine had come through the bus, and my husband was smashed between the driver’s seat and a half wall. He had also slammed his head against the side of the bus. The wrestler who had also tried to help was thrown down the stairs of the bus towards the door.
The first thing I noticed was someone lying under a blanket on the side of the road. I was terrified it was my husband and that I had lost him. It was the wrestler that had fallen down the stairs; he had broken his wrist and knew that was the end of his wrestling season that year. About that time, I finally saw my husband hobbling around, trying to take care of the team he loved so much and was responsible for. I ran to him, hugged him, and forced him to sit down in the front seat of our car. I did a quick assessment and found that his knee and ankle hurt, but that his head and mouth were really bothering him. When I asked him to show me his mouth, I noticed his front teeth were in the wrong location. I told him I would sit on him if I had to in order to keep him down as he wanted to get up and go check on the kids. I promised I would check on everyone and report back to him. Thankfully the police and ambulance arrived not much later. I jumped in the ambulance with my husband, and luckily two of my daughter’s uncles happened upon the scene and were able to take my car and our daughter with them.
I ended up sleeping in a hospital chair, pregnant, for four days with my husband. He had sprained his ankle and broken both his knee and jaw. They had done surgery to wire his jaw shut. Normally someone with his injuries should go home the next day, but Troy couldn’t seem to get his pain under control. The really scary part was that his short term memory wasn’t good. Several times he would wake up, and I would have to tell him yet again everything that had happened. People would come to visit him, and sometimes he didn’t know who they were. There was mention that he had a concussion, but we also assumed that the pain medicine was messing with his memory. Never during this time was he referred to or visited by a neurologist. The only doctor who checked on him during that time was the surgeon who had wired his jaw shut.
Finally, we got to go home. Trying to get Troy to rest and recuperate was a struggle. Growing up in St. Maries our role models were loggers, truck drivers, and mill workers. These were men with a tremendous work ethic and a lot of pride. You always showed up for work, no matter what, and if you were hurt, anyone who was half a man kept that to himself. So after just two days at home, Troy insisted on riding the bus to another wrestling tournament with his team the following Saturday, and the following week, against the doctor’s recommendations, he went back to work as an 8th-grade middle school science teacher. He also went to wrestling practices in the evening and was even the speaker at the bus driver’s funeral. Troy came home exhausted and irritable and was very short-tempered with me, very unlike his usual self. Although it was one of the most difficult times in our marriage, I stuck it out blaming the pain from his injuries and the medication they had him on.
A few months after the accident, Troy overheard me talking to my sister on the phone about how stressful dealing with Troy’s erratic behavior had been. He apologized to me when I got off of the phone for how he had treated me and confessed that he had no memory of any of it. He said the last thing he remembered was right before bus had hit the tree, and then his next memory was being at the podium at the state wrestling tournament. More than a month had gone by that Troy had no memory of at all. He had gone to work, to a funeral, and coached during that time and didn’t recall any of it. He did, however, recall the fight we had had the morning of the accident over the pizza. We talked about how if he had died that day how remorseful we would have been that those would have been the last words we would have spoken to each other instead of saying, “I love you,” like we normally did when we said goodbye. We vowed that we would never do that again regardless of any circumstances for the rest of our lives.
Because Troy was a school district employee, his injuries fell under Worker’s Compensation. There were several hoops we had to jump through for his medical bills to be covered, and so he had to undergo different tests and examinations. It was determined that Troy definitely had a concussion and therapy for the brain injury was prescribed. Troy started to go but complained about it every time. He thought that the exercises the therapist had him do were hoaxy, and eventually he refused to go at all. Troy said he didn’t have time for something that wasn’t going to help him anyway.
Eventually, his knee started to really bother him, and he had to have surgery to repair it. During his recovery, a lot happened in our lives. Our son was born, and Troy decided to coach just one more year so that he could start his master’s program in Education Administration. His near-death experience had also made him decide that he wanted to be able to spend more time with his family. After a couple of years of recovery, Worker’s Compensation determined that Troy was fully recovered and offered him a settlement. We assumed it would be for the knee that still ached or the broken jaw, so we were shocked when the settlement was for the concussion. We actually joked to our friends about how absurd it was. At that time people didn’t really talk about concussions or brain injuries and very little was known about them. Those were the days that when an athlete got his bell rung, the tough kids got up and got back on the playing field. Troy was raised in a town of tough stock, so for him the settlement for hitting his head was an insult. I used the money to surprise Troy with a fishing trip to Alaska with his dad and assistant wrestling coach. It was a reward for earning his master’s degree and for the strength he had shown during his recovery. That trip was one of the best weeks of his life.
Troy’s career in administration just took off; sometimes it seemed like it was almost out of his control. His first job was at a small school called Canyon where he was a 4th/5th-grade teacher and principal. He then became the Athletic Director and Assistant Principal at Kellogg High School. He rewrote the district discipline plan during this time, but his real goal was to infuse more school spirit into the Kellogg Athletic Program. Troy loved people and athletics, so this position was his dream job. At the end of his second year, the school principal unexpectedly left. The district and community practically begged Troy to take the position, even though he had the job he wanted to do until he retired. The people around him who loved him finally convinced him to apply, and the school district decided to interview just one candidate for the position, Troy Schueller.
Troy’s reputation as being a good administrator grew outside of the boundaries of the Silver Valley. Coeur d’ Alene High School had an opening for an assistant principal. As the principal of CHS started to recruit a pool of candidates, Troy’s name came up more than once. Even though he didn’t really know Troy, the principal called Troy and asked him to apply stating that he had contacted others and asked them to apply as well. When this phone call came, Troy and I had been looking to buy or build our second home for our family, but there just weren’t a lot of good options for real estate in the Silver Valley at the time. In addition, there were some opportunities for our children both athletically and academically in Coeur d’ Alene that we just didn’t have in the Silver Valley. We decided that it was a huge compliment that Troy had been asked to apply and that it wouldn’t hurt him to update his resume and go through the process. We really didn’t expect him to get the position. After all, we were just two kids from small-town St. Maries, and 32 candidates had applied for the job. We were actually shocked when he was offered the job and had to decide if we even really wanted it. Finally, we decided it was the best move for our family and our careers, so we took a leap of faith and moved to Coeur d’ Alene.
So after 11 years in the Silver Valley, we started our new lives in Coeur d’ Alene. The first year was much harder than any of us imagined both for the kids starting new schools and making new friends but surprisingly for us as well. But we settled in and started to love our new hometown. Our children were thriving, we were growing in our careers, we were a close family, and we had a loving marriage. It seemed that we had everything we could have ever hoped for and more, and we always talked about how grateful we were to have a life we loved so much.
A few years after we were settled, Troy started to have a lot of back pain. The bus wreck was not the first major car accident he was in. When he was in high school, he was hit from behind at full speed by another car while waiting to turn. Several months later during a wrestling match, he suddenly went numb from the waist down. It was discovered that he had injured his back in the accident requiring major back surgery. He lost the rest of his senior year of wrestling, but most importantly the doctor told him he would never be able to do a job that required manual labor. Troy had planned to drive a logging truck after high school, so he wasn’t sure what to do with his life. A friend encouraged him to become a teacher and a wrestling coach instead.
So as he dealt with the stress of a new job, he also started to deal with the back pain. We weren’t sure if it was from the trauma of the bus wreck or just the result of aging and the first accident. He went to see a specialist, and the only option at that time was to put metal rods in his back. Troy would lose range of motion and eventually would have to have more back surgeries down the road. The surgeon encouraged him to put this off for as many years as he possibly could since he was so young. So in other words, Troy would have to live with chronic pain for a long as possible. So what does a tough kid from St. Maries do? You suck it up and do what you have to do without complaining. This began years of Troy taking Ibuprofen daily, and every few months getting painful injections in his back for some temporary relief.
Thankfully the waiting paid off, and a new arthroscopic form of back surgery was discovered. Troy could have a surgery that was outpatient and wouldn’t require metal rods in his back. While he was nervous, at this point he was willing to try anything. He had the surgery, and after the recovery, it seemed like a miracle a first. His back was the best it had been in years. He could actually golf and not be completely miserable after. I was so grateful to not have to watch my husband suffer on a daily basis anymore.
Troy really loved his new job. He was great with people, worked hard, was efficient, and wasn’t afraid to do the tough stuff. Because of these character traits after his first year, his primary job as an assistant principal was student discipline. While Troy was very good at what he did, this job weighed on him more than he would have ever wanted other people to know. Troy truly loved people, and I have never seen someone go out of their way to do more for others than he did. His goal was to know the names of as many students as possible, and he tried to build a relationship with a new student every day. Another goal of his was to try to make someone’s day every day. While Troy wasn’t afraid to deal with tough situations head on, he was much more sensitive than most people knew. I noticed as the wife of an administrator that people seem to think when people take on that job they are no longer human; they no longer had feelings anymore. I could tell so many stories of people dehumanizing Troy over the years with the yelling and threats; nobody deserves to be treated that way. But on the flip side, a majority of the students, staff, and community were wonderful people, and I know they helped fill Troy up. Unfortunately, a majority of his clientele were the tough cases. I remember telling him that he had to remember that with every decision he made, he was going to make someone unhappy. I told him if he did what he thought was right that even if people didn’t agree with him, they would still respect him. His comment to me was, “Why can’t I make those people happy though, too?” He was a people pleaser to a fault, to a point where I watched a lot of people take advantage of his kindness over the years. I just know that nothing made him feel better than doing things for others; he never made himself the priority. He wanted to win over the whole world.
So Troy did high school discipline for eight years. As a point of reference, most administrators average five years in one position. But Troy loved CHS. He loved the staff, students, and parents, and he really loved being in the same school as his own two kids. His ultimate goal was to become principal, and he turned down several job offers over the years to reach this goal. It was during this time, however, that I noticed he had headaches more frequently. I was buying Ibuprofen constantly but assumed the headaches were from the stress of his job. We were always very careful with our money and had invested and saved enough to cover a year’s salary. I told him constantly that our lives didn’t depend on his job. When he had enough, he had my blessing to quit at any time. It was hard for me because there was always a part of me who wanted him to quit because I wanted to protect him, but as a teacher, I also knew what an amazing administrator he was. I believed in him, and I completely trusted him. I always thought that if he had enough, he would walk away.
Eventually, Troy’s hard work paid off, and he achieved his ultimate goal of becoming the principal at CHS. We were on a trip headed to Canada when he found out. It was honestly one of the happiest I had ever seen him. I hoped that since his focus would no longer be on discipline, it would re-energize his career; his focus would finally be more positive. Troy knew there was a lot of work to do, and it wouldn’t be easy. But he believed in CHS and thought it could be an amazing school. I noticed during this time that the headaches never seemed to go away, and his back was starting to really bother him again. But again, I attributed it to the stress of the job. Troy was enjoying his new career challenge, and he wasn’t willing to let anything get in his way.
Looking back, that December after Troy became principal is where I really think there was a major turning point in Troy’s life, the beginning of the end. My brother-in-law ended up having an appendectomy on Christmas Day. A few days later after a snowstorm, Troy took our four-wheeler over to my sister’s house to help them out. After he cleared the driveway, he was shoveling their walkway. My sister’s house didn’t have rain gutters, and she had a layer of ice on the sidewalk. Troy slipped on the ice and landed on his head; he actually laid in the driveway for quite a while before he could even get up. Troy came home and laid down on the couch. At first, I thought he was just taking a nap, but then he finally admitted what happened. I told him I was sure he had a concussion, and I wanted to take him to a doctor right away. Troy insisted there was nothing that could be done. They would put him on brain rest and tell him not to go to work. He told me there was no way he was missing work. I told him he had like 150 sick days and that his admin team could help him out. As I continued to press him to go to the doctor, he was so adamant about not going that it turned into an argument. I assumed it was his stubborn pride standing in his way. I know now that he was really scared; he had known for a long time that something wasn’t right.
Troy continued through that first year with his headaches getting worse. Some days they were so bad he would go get injections to relieve the pain. As he finished his first year though, he had a new project he was excited about. One of Troy’s life dreams was to build a house out of town on acreage. Some place he could escape to and relax. Because of his new position, we could finally make that dream come true. So we bought property and construction began that summer. I remember before we signed papers, I sat him down and asked him if the house was really worth it. I felt the mortgage made us too dependent on his salary, and I always wanted him to feel like he could leave at any time. He insisted he had the job he always wanted, and now he would have the house, too. He planned to retire as principal of CHS.
In the midst of the excitement of the construction of Troy’s dream house, he endured his third concussion. We were out boating with my sister and brother-in-law when we came upon a bridge down by Harrison. Someone had a rope swing, and people were swinging off the bridge into the water. Troy teased me because I was afraid of heights and refused to climb up the bridge onto the rope swing. I was sitting down below in the boat when Troy went. He flew out across the water and held on too long. He did a weird flip and hit the water hard, head first. He swam over to the boat, and we took off down the river. Not far down the river he said he felt weird and thought he might get sick. It was getting to a point where Troy’s brain just wouldn’t be able to take much more.
The next school year started, and the headaches continued. I also noticed that his back and knee both were starting to bother him again. While I always worried about it, Troy would always just kind of laugh it off and make a joke about it. He told me he had an old grandpa body, and he was just getting old. He also said he was done having surgeries; the doctors could never help him. At this point, my husband had been living in pain for almost 17 years, and I had come to accept it as his norm. I always thought that most of it was a result of the stress of his job, so I spent most of my energy trying to be as supportive and positive as possible. I would listen when he wanted to talk about work. But I also knew there were days he needed a break from it, so we didn’t talk about it at all. I tried to do my best to follow his lead and give him what I thought he needed from me at the time; of course in retrospect, I would do it all differently now.
The December before Troy died was an exciting month. Our new house was finished, and we moved in right before Christmas. The week after Christmas, our second grandchild was born. I took a picture of Troy with the new grandbaby and was a little shocked to realize how much weight he had lost. I knew he had slimmed down, but he had gained some weight over the years. I had actually been complimenting him on his weight loss. The spring before I had asked him to cut back on how much beer he had been drinking daily over the last several years as I believed he was using it as a way to deal with his stress. I assumed the weight loss was from cutting back on the beer. Our son was also in the middle of his wrestling season. While Troy was very supportive and never put any pressure on Hunter, it was obvious he got a lot of pride from watching him wrestle. We were also looking forward to spring break as we had a trip planned to Kauai with some dear family friends and my sister who was turning 40. Life was crazy busy as always, but things seemed good.
On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, Troy called me on his way home from work, just like he always did. I remember he was really quiet and was acting funny. I asked him if he was ok. There was a long pause, and he said he was fine; it had just been a long day. I again asked if he was sure, and he again hesitated. I felt like he wanted to tell me something, but I didn’t want to press. Again I had learned that sometimes it helped him to talk about work, and sometimes he just wanted to go home and forget it. I decided to let it go and talk to him more about it face-to-face when I got home.
By the time I got there, he seemed so much better. He had cooked dinner, and we opened a bottle of wine from a shipment we had gotten from our wine club. We were celebrating as the next day was my last with students before spring break. Our son was with a friend, so we had a great night. We talked and laughed, and I remember thinking that it felt like a date night. We went to bed, and I fell asleep quickly. About midnight, I woke up to Troy coming into our bedroom. I was surprised as I didn’t know he had left. He said he hadn’t been able to fall asleep, just thinking about work. This was something that happened to both of us frequently. I decided to go sleep in the spare bedroom as I was tossing and turning trying to fall back to sleep, and I didn’t want to keep Troy up. When I woke up about 4:30 in the morning, Troy was already awake watching TV. Looking back I now wonder if he was up all night planning what he was going to do. I climbed into bed, cuddled up next to him, and joked about calling in sick and starting our spring break a day early. Troy then said it was just one more day; we would make it.
I got up and showered and then ironed Troy’s clothes while he showered. He put on his tie and shaved just like he does every day. Then just like we had promised each other over 17 years before, we said goodbye and hugged and kissed. The only difference was on most days when Troy was headed for work, it was pretty quick as he liked to be to work by 5:30. But that day when we hugged, I noticed he held and kissed me longer, and he looked me right in the eyes when he said, “I love you.” I remember saying, “That was really nice.” Then he walked out of our bedroom, he started his truck, and left. That was the last time I saw him alive; those were the last words he said to me, just like we had promised.
On my way to school that morning, I noticed that Troy’s truck wasn’t in the parking lot at CHS, so I called him. I asked him where he was. He said he had a meeting at the district office. I asked him what for, and he said something about scheduling. I recall saying I didn’t remember him ever going to the district office for that before and teased him about how much he loved meetings. He told me to have a great last day with kids and that he loved me. Troy had two best friends. He texted back and forth with one of them that morning, and he spoke to the other on the phone. Both are school administrators. Our son texted him and asked him why he wasn’t at school that day. Troy spoke to all of the people he confided in the most to that morning; he had several chances to ask for help. But he had already made up his mind. Troy had so much pride; his reputation and good name meant so much to him.
That day during my prep period, our School Resource Officer came into my classroom and told me there was a welfare check for Troy at our house. I didn’t even know what that meant. He then asked me if Troy was depressed. My response was, “What? No!” Next thing I knew the CHS SRO was at my school with my son. He told me that Troy had called him and told him to bring Hunter to me. I tried to call him, and it went straight to voice mail. I tried to text him, and instead of the text showing blue, it was green. I knew right then without knowing any details that my husband was gone, but I had absolutely no idea why. Then the call came in that they had found Troy behind the woodpile by our house. He had a self-inflicted gun shot, and they didn’t expect him to live. Troy called his SRO to make sure Hunter and I were together when we found out and to make sure we weren’t the ones to come home and find him. I have always believed in my heart that in Troy’s mind everything he did that day was to protect his family.
I read a book after Troy died about surviving after suicide; I was shocked to discover that most people who commit suicide don’t leave a note or any explanation. I knew that Troy would never do that to me, so I went home that night to find the note. The police had taken it, but they brought me a copy the next day. I don’t know how I would have survived without his simple explanation. I didn’t see it coming at all; I had no idea of what had been going on. After 16 months, I still wake up every day shocked that Troy is gone and that he, of all people, would commit suicide. But after I put all of the pieces together and I looked back, it all came together.
According to Troy’s letter, on Tuesday, March 20th, Troy was called into the district office for a meeting. Approximately a year before a staff member had offered Troy a pain pill for his back, and he “stupidly” took it. Troy felt that this staff member was mad at him and had therefore filed a complaint and got another person involved. For this reason, Troy was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. He never mentioned any names; he protected his staff even to the end. It just hurts to know that someone from his staff wanted to get him in trouble instead of getting him out of trouble.
Troy’s exact words were, “Ever since January 22, 2001, I have not been 'right.' My body aches continuously, but my headache never goes away. That, along with this alleged complaint, leaves me only one way out.”
So why share Troy’s story? Why now? To be honest, very few people know the whole story, not even some of my closest friends and family. I can talk about who Troy was and tell stories about him all day, but to talk about what happened or how I am doing makes me break down every time, even 17 months later. Part of my silence has been because I wanted to protect my husband and the secret that he couldn’t share with even the people that were the closest to him. His death was so public, and so much was out of my control. But I could control who really knew the truth. The other reason I have waited for so long is because no matter how much therapy I have or how many books I read to figure this all out, I know that I will always blame myself for what happened to my husband. He was my best friend, my soul mate, the love of my life. I was supposed to be his person; I will never understand how he felt he couldn’t come to me with this. A quote that I read in a book about suicide that really struck me said, “As I begin to move on and grow and flourish, I am aware I will be forgiving both myself and my husband continually for the rest of my life.” In all honesty, it was easy to forgive my husband; I have a much harder time forgiving myself. But what I do know about my husband is that he was the best person I have ever known. He deserves to be honored, and he would do anything to help anyone. I know this because I have letters upon letters from students, staff, and parents who told me how much Troy helped them when he was alive. Therefore, if his story can make an impact for positive change and help others, that is how Troy would want it.
What Troy told me in his letter was that he died from chronic pain, and while I am not a doctor, I believe in my heart he had CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). I believe Troy loved his life and his career, but he couldn’t just “tough out” the pain anymore. People came to me with stories after Troy died that explained how he was trying to be everything for everyone, even with his pain. One of his best friends told me about how his grandma said that Troy kept going to see her and that she caught him in his bathroom taking his hydrocodone prescription. Since grandma struggled with some dementia and Troy was such an outstanding man, nobody believed her even when the doctor said she was going through her pain medicine too quickly. It made sense when I looked back at the times Troy joked about the grandma calling him at work to go and see her and help her with things around the house. Troy had an uncle with a lot of health problems who also had a lot of opioids in his house. Troy suddenly started to visit him more often stating that he was trying to help his family out. I remember our friends whose high school son had had surgery, and the doctor had gotten after him for taking too many pain pills after Troy had visited him to check up on him. Another family from the school had the same experience. Troy had shared these stories at home explaining how concerned he was about these kids possibly overdoing it with opioids. Then there was the time I found a prescription for hydrocodone in Troy’s truck, but he hadn’t told me about going to the doctor. Or when our son had strep throat and Troy also picked up a prescription for hydrocodone and told our son not to tell mom because she’ll just make me go to the doctor, and I am done having surgeries. Or when he was having bad headaches and our daughter offered him the rest of her hydrocodone after having a baby, and again he told her not to tell mom because she doesn’t like me to take anything not natural. There are more stories, but they all didn’t come together until after he was gone; after it was too late. Each person who shared their story had doubted themselves because everyone thought so much of Troy. When you look at each example in isolation, you can see why you would doubt it. But when it all came together, I realized Troy thought he had run out of options; this was the only way he could keep going. The one mystery of it all comes in his toxicology report; the police found no alcohol, drugs, or opioids in Troy’s system when he died. Again it makes me want to doubt that my husband probably was addicted to opioids to try to control his pain because he was such an outstanding person. That is not who he was; I had never known that person.
Troy’s death brings to light four major issues we are struggling within society today. Through sharing his story, these are the changes I hope to see in the world.
1. I hope that research will continue on brain trauma, specifically the effects of concussions and CTE. I will never forget when I watched the movie Concussion a few years before my husband died. The doctor who brought light to CTE and the effects of concussions lost his job and was practically persecuted by his doubters. I know a lot of supporters of football want to scoff at the research. My husband didn’t sustain his initial injuries from football but a car accident. I was in such shock when he died that I followed his request to be cremated. It wasn’t until a few weeks later when I started putting all of the pieces together that I suspected the CTE. I wish I would have had an autopsy of his brain to confirm my suspicions and to further this important research. But his words that I just haven’t felt “right” since 2001 speaks volumes to me about what he was dealing with. One of my husband’s hero’s was Dale Earnhart Junior. I read an article about him after Troy died where he said he retired from racing because of concussions and CTE. He talked about how he has undergone therapy that has helped him. I wonder if Troy would have read this article before he died, if he would have realized he wasn’t weak to seek help and that there are options out there.
2. Opioid addiction is a real issue in our society, and I believe most of these are brought on by people experiencing chronic pain like my husband was. I think these drugs are helpful for people who are recovering from surgery and will get better, but there has to be another option for people like my husband who suffered for 17 years. I have read some good things about CBD oil and acupuncture, but we need more research and more options. The facts are that too many people that are prescribed opioids end up with addictions and die from drug overdoses or suicide.
3. We have to keep talking about mental health and spend more tax dollars establishing more clinics and outpatient programs for people dealing with mental health issues. Nobody should be ashamed to admit that they are struggling, and they need help. Money or insurance can not stand in the way of getting people the help they need. My husband had money, insurance, support, and love--he had resources and helped other people find them almost every day. For him, I think it was pride. It was too taboo where we grew up to talk about these kinds of things, to admit that we need help.
4. The final thing I want to change are the privacy laws in the workplace. I went and saw Troy’s supervisor after he died to find out about the meeting where he was put on administrative leave. As I left, a comment she made haunted me. She said I wish I could have told you, but privacy laws won’t allow us to. This really struck me as even a counselor has the right to break confidentiality laws if they think their clients will harm themselves, but in the workplace, we can’t do this? I want to see a new law/policy that when someone starts a new job they can volunteer to appoint someone who can be contacted on the employee’s behalf if the employer is concerned about the employee for any reason. I know that if Troy and I had this option, we would have both appointed each other. I adamantly believe if I would have known that Troy had been put on administrative leave, and if I would have known about the suspicion of his addiction, I could have done an intervention and saved his life. He would still be here today. He just couldn’t admit to what had happened; he needed someone to do that for him. I believe Troy didn’t want to die; he just didn’t know how to live anymore. Someone needed to give his wife, family, and friends a chance to take care of him for once, just like he took care of all of us.
So I need a lot of help with this. I need help from doctors, researchers, lawmakers, and administrators in the workplace. I am willing to share Troy’s story and do any work I can to make these changes in our society. But it is not a one-man job, and these are not the problems of just one man. I hope people won’t read this just out of morbid curiosity of what really happened to Troy Schueller but with an open mind to do your part to change these flaws in our society. I am breaking the silence no matter how hard it is for our family so that nobody else has to suffer the way Troy or our family has.
So how did my husband die? Yes, as much as it still gets caught in my throat every time I say it, my husband died by suicide. But I also believe my husband was killed in a bus accident. It didn’t happen on January 22, 2001; it killed him slowly over 17 years. And I try to be grateful for that. Had he died on that day, our son that I was pregnant with would have never known his dad. Had he died on that day, he wouldn’t have given our daughter her high school diploma or walked her down the aisle. I am grateful that I had a loving relationship for 20 years that some people live their whole lives and never have. I also know that if he had to do it all over again even knowing how it would end, he still would have run to the front of the bus to try to save his wrestling team from harm, and he did. Besides the driver and eventually Troy, nobody else died that day or was seriously harmed. I don’t want his sacrifice to go unnoticed, not just on the bus that day. But his ultimate sacrifice that could bring light and change to so many big issues our society faces today.
Aftermath: The state of Idaho ranks fifth in the nation for the highest suicide rate, and Coeur d’Alene’s region ranks second in the state of Idaho. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages and the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years. It’s time to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, concussions, and opioid addictions. Our goal in sharing this story is to start real discussions about these social issues, remove the secrecy and shame, and start working together towards positive changes in our society. Please pass Troy’s story on to at least five people to read through your Facebook page or any social media. We want Troy’s story to reach not just the community of Coeur d’Alene or the state of Idaho but the entire nation as these are issues that impact so many people. It is time to start a movement to pass laws, start research, and find funding to address these social issues.