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

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.”

Do You Know Someone Who Needs CaringBridge

Do you know a current or former military service member who could benefit from starting a CaringBridge site to keep loved ones updated on their mental and physical health? If so, share this link with them: caringbridge.org/military-service.

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

  • Maryrae Gibson

    Thank God you are here Kevin. I suffer from depression as well as panic attacks , and I have at times, thought about ending my life. The only thing that stops me is knowing how much pain I would be putting my family and friends thru. I know that pain cuz I have had 4 close friends take their own life. I thank God u have survived.

  • Karen S Johns

    Kevin, your story is very humbling. Really makes a person think. I truly am glad you survived to tell your story over and over. I know I am listening and I wish you continued success in your life and all you have yet to experience.

  • Magdalaena Rushinera

    Dear Kevin,, I am so very grateful you are here with us NOW> You have no idea what your presence and choice to be here is is doing to inspire and bring so much love to the world—-just showing up and being YOU! You are a courageous blessing —– thank you thank you, Love, Magdalaena

  • Margie S.

    Truly God had another purpose for Kevin’s life. I don’t know him but am thankful that he survived. Our family has members who suffer from depression. I have prayed for them for years that it would never come to what Kevin felt he had to do. Blessings of Joy

  • jk weber

    our society and network is woefully inadequate, to respond , quickly to peoples pain in this situation. Dialing 911 gets you nowhere. The national hotline gets you a recording! Please dial a friend or loved one. they are there to listen and help. Do not try to do this alone!

  • Mary Blair Koehl

    Shari Paulson, I, too, lost a son, 17 years old, who showed none of the classic signs of depression. Still shocked to this day. A wonderful, promising life gone, and we still don’t understand why, 27 years later. The pain and questions continue……


    I am glad that you still have your son to share this story. Unfortunately, my story wasn’t that successful. I did not realize that my son, who was 26 years of age at the time, was depressed. He always seemed so upbeat and cheerful. From many stories I have read about, most of the people that attempt or complete suicide you would never know there was anything wrong. It has been 6 years, and yes, I still ask the question – Why? I guess I will never know the answer to this question until I see him face-to-face in heaven. God Bless – I am glad your son got a second chance.

  • maria cornellier

    what an awesome story thank you kevin i am glad you made it though

  • Tanya Cole

    Kevin, I am glad you survived!! My husband has attempted suicide 3 times over the last 5 years I have also learned to not ask why he simply says to allow his body to let go of never ending thoughts. I don’t know how he survived his 2nd attempt he spent 5 days in Icu after taking 500 pills in a matter of 30 minutes or less. His story, our story is not over he is here to bring awareness, to help others or something our story has a purpose somewhere. He to served in the military as a Marine. God bless you and your family!! May you find a blessing everyday to make life easier and to allow you to smile!!!

  • L.Dionne

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.