September 6, 2022

ASU pupil veteran scales Mount Kilimanjaro to honor fellow provider member who died via suicide

Editor’s notice: This tale is being printed along side Nationwide Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 4–10.

When David Hamrick reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro after 5 days of mountain climbing, he cried. However he didn’t know in the event that they have been tears of pleasure or sorrow.

“They have been someplace within the center,” says Hamrick, a Military veteran and a fourth-year pupil at Arizona State College. “I used to be satisfied that I stopped however unhappy that Alec wasn’t with me to proportion within the pleasure.”

Hamrick is relating to Alec Serna, a adolescence buddy and fellow naval provider member who died on Would possibly 19, 2018. Hamrick makes use of a day-to-day workout routine to assist him procedure his grief, which incorporates working, mountain climbing, bodybuilding, and rock mountain climbing.

Man holding up flag on mountain

David Hamrick on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Photograph courtesy David Hamrick

The nineteen,341-foot climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano in Tanzania, happened in July. Hamrick used the problem to honor his fallen buddy whilst grieving for him on the identical time.

Serna died via suicide. His surprising demise took everybody via wonder.

“Alec was once 6-foot-5, tall, darkish and good-looking and he had a presence that nobody may just forget about when he walked right into a room,” says Hamrick, a sports activities science and function programming primary within the School of Well being Answers. “He had a really perfect smile, his power was once at all times certain and he simply lifted everybody up.”

Hamrick stated Serna first lifted him up after highschool ended. On the time, Hamrick was once an audio engineer and dwelling out of his automotive in west Hollywood close to the Sundown Strip. He joined a health club for $10 a month, which enabled him to take day-to-day showers and alter his garments. Past that, he had no grasp plan. However Serna quickly modified his thoughts.

“(Alec) was once a rescue swimmer from the Military and jumped out of helicopters, capturing gadget weapons. I assumed that was once beautiful cool,” Hamrick says. “Issues quickly went south in Hollywood and in order that was once my inspiration for becoming a member of the Military.”

Hamrick enlisted in 2016 and were given an task at the USS Anchorage out of San Diego, doing repairs and preservation paintings at the send.

“The Military in reality driven me to my complete psychological and bodily limits, and I’d have by no means identified what the ones limits have been previous to the Military,” Hamrick says. “Previous to my provider, I used to be sitting in a recording studio for 18 to twenty hours an afternoon, dwelling a slightly simple existence without a out of doors stressors.”

In the meantime, Serna’s existence had its personal stressors. An extended-term private dating ended, and it despatched him right into a downward spiral.

“Alec messaged me at some point that he wasn’t doing so smartly, so I went to talk over with him at his condo nearly each day,” Hamrick says. “Sooner or later he had a gun to his head and a bottle of alcohol between his legs. After I discovered how critical the location was once, I’d attempt to spend as a lot time with him as I may just. I made positive he fell asleep sooner than me each unmarried day as a result of he wasn’t getting a lot sleep.”

Hamrick stated he did the whole lot he may just to assist Serna along with his despair. He accompanied him on day-to-day seashore runs, outings on the health club, foods, they usually even attended a reggae live performance in combination. Not anything appeared to assist.

“(After the live performance) was once the primary evening I fell asleep sooner than him, and that was once the evening he took his existence,” Hamrick stated. “I at the beginning put numerous blame on myself in regards to the entire state of affairs. It was once a particularly onerous time as a result of this got here completely suddenly.”

Two men in white shirts

David Hamrick (left) and Alec Serna in happier instances. Photograph courtesy David Hamrick

Rebecca Okay. Blais, a medical psychologist and an affiliate professor of psychology at ASU, says the cases round Serna’s demise is one thing she’s seeing extra of with active-duty provider contributors. Blais, whose analysis contains army sexual violence and suicide, stated damaged relationships can cause a reaction in individuals who serve.

“Carrier contributors who input the army are, via and big, anticipating to struggle in fight. The youngest of our provider contributors have simplest identified warfare given the length of conflicts following 9/11,” Blais stated. “Now that the warfare is over, a lot of them don’t know what to do. … Whilst you mix a loss of objective and failing private relationships, you’ll see an uptick in suicide possibility.”

READ MORE: Supporting our army’s psychological well being

Hamrick spent the following 8 months grieving at the send, having a look out at the ocean for solutions. His shipmate, Kevin Murphy, in an instant sensed his melancholy.

“Alec and David have been adolescence friends, the most productive of buddies, and (Alec) was once a larger-than-life personality with a gregarious character,” says Murphy, who nonetheless serves within the Military. “When Alec died, it was once very onerous on David. He was once utterly distraught. It was once beautiful unhealthy. I did my very best to speak to him to assist him grieve, however while you’re at sea for months at a time, you don’t in reality get numerous time to your self.”

Hamrick stated despite the fact that the send didn’t be offering bodily or emotional house to grieve, he made a vow that after it docked, he was once going to “get started working.”

And he did.

Not up to a month after Hamrick’s send docked, he participated within the Scorching Chocolate 15k race in San Diego. He took 2nd position and were given hooked on working.

“Once I ran, it was once the one time I wasn’t fascinated about existence and the stressors that include it,” Hamrick says. “All I needed to do was once put one foot in entrance of the opposite and simply breathe. It was once quite simple.”

Man with back tattoo

David Hamrick’s tribute tattoo to Alec Serna. Photograph via Charlie Leight/ASU Information

Beautiful quickly he added mountain climbing and backpacking to his health routine. He has hiked quite a lot of websites in Arizona, together with South Mountain, Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Top, the Flatiron, McDowell Mountains, Picacho Top, Humphreys Top and Thumb Butte. He additionally competes in regional Spartan Races during the rustic.

“I used to be recognized with despair and anxiousness dysfunction upon discharging from the Military,” Hamrick says. “I’ve peace within the outside.

“This adventure has allowed me to realize some working out in regards to the psychological well being stigma and the way it must be damaged,” he says. “This has given me a objective, a keenness and one thing significant to my existence.”

Lately, Hamrick were given a big tattoo in tribute to Serna. It isn’t small or insignificant, masking his complete again. Even if some say it could be too giant, Serna’s brother, Logan Moores, thinks it’s becoming.

“For a very long time, Alec carried David on his again,” Moores stated. “And now David is wearing Alec on his again.”

Suicide prevention pointers

Supplied via Affiliate Professor Rebecca Okay. Blais

• In case you have a priority about any person, succeed in out and inform that individual that you just care about them. Additionally inspire them to get skilled assist.

• Know the place to get assist so to assist your self or any person you care about. In case you are experiencing ideas of suicide, you’ll be able to name 988 or 1-800-273-TALK.

• In finding that means and objective for your existence and to find techniques to are living that each unmarried day. 

• In case you are supporting any person as they enjoy suicidal ideation, you should definitely deal with your self and search social reinforce or skilled assist. 

• Cut back possibility for demise via suicide via taking away simple get entry to to firearms or different deadly method. Lowering use of drugs that impair decision-making or build up impulsivity, akin to alcohol, could also be vital.

Most sensible photograph: David Hamrick, a fourth-year sports activities science and function programming pupil and a Military veteran, poses at the Pima Canyon path on South Mountain on Aug. 26. Photograph via Charlie Leight/ASU Information

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