Mitch's MarchOn July 4, 2007, Mitchell Gray took his own life. His brother, Matt, found him around 1 a.m. in the garage of their father's home. After becoming addicted to meth, suffering psychotic delusions and dealing with the guilt of addiction, he ended it. Mitch had a good heart. An old soul, he was likeable, ornery and had an infectious sense of humor. He had a special bond with everyone in his close-knit family. Mitch cared about everybody ahead of himself. "He always made friends with people who were down and out," said his mother, Cindy. "I don't think he knew where he fit in life," she said. "I think he was always trying to make everyone else happy, and he didn't care enough about himself."

Unfortunately, Mitch's story is all too common. When he was 17, he started partying and experimenting with alcohol and marijuana. He was doing well in an alternative high school. Mitch worked at a restaurant in Fort Collins, and one of his co-workers introduced him to meth. Mitch quickly became addicted. Soon he began disappearing for days at a time. With four siblings and his two parents, Mitch had a big family. They would look for him, but could never find him. "We couldn't find out where he was going or what he was doing," Cindy said. Soon Mitch was lost for good. He had become completely addicted to meth, and it had already altered his psyche. "By the time I found out, he was already hallucinating," Cindy said. On one day Cindy came home from work and found Mitch searching for her in the garage. He thought she was in a cardboard box.

When she asked him about his meth use, he denied everything. "They (meth users) will defend it, deny it, and that's probably the most critical time — when they are in the beginning stages of addiction." "There were many nights when I went out in the middle of the night looking for him on the streets," Cindy said.

During the next few years, Mitch went to jail a couple times for alcohol offenses. He was picked up by police on one occasion for having a scale with traces of meth on it. Efforts for treatment were unsuccessful. Mitch would stay clean for awhile, then fall back into using. Mitch's last effort at recovery was a three-month stay at a mental health facility. While there, he slit his wrists, but then immediately notified staff so that he could receive care. He was eventually released, and he determined to stay clean. But by then, he had paranoid schizophrenia and needed a lot of personal care from his family. Mitch's March"He'd call me 8-10 times a day," Cindy said about the spring and summer after Mitch had left the mental health facility. He needed her constant attention.

Mitch began participating in softball with his brothers, and every Wednesday he'd put his softball shirt on as soon as he woke up, because he was so excited to play. He wanted so desperately to just be normal again.

On one Wednesday when there wasn't a game, Mitch spent the day calling his mother like he always did. She worked as a sales person, so she took him on a few appointments with her, took him to Wendy's, to a friend's house and finally back home to his dad's house. When Cindy hadn't heard from Mitch for three hours, which was out of the ordinary, she knew something was wrong. She got a hold of him on the phone and could tell he was at a bar. "I told him, 'Mitch, you can't drink. Go home.'" "OK, Mom, I love you," he responded. "I love you too, Mitch." "And that's the last time I talked to him," Cindy said.

Mitch's MarchMitch came home from the bar that night and ended his life, in the early morning hours of the 4th of July, 2007 — torn from the guilt of what his life had become and what he had done to his family.

Mitch's March Against Meth

   

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