MSU golfer dies by suicide, parents hope to help others struggling with depression

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A third college-level student athlete has passed away in just the last few months.

One was shot and killed, another died from a health-related incident, and the latest, a Missouri State University golfer took his own life over the weekend.

Sam Holmes was only 19 years old. He took his own life on Friday after a long battle with anxiety and depression. His teammates are playing golf at Twin Oaks Golf and Country Club Monday and Tuesday in Sam's honor.

Holmes' parents say so many struggle with mental illness, and they want people to know, they are not alone.

"It was almost impossible for him (Sam) to talk about it-- even with his best friends and even with us-- and that was his downfall... it was just totally encompassing and overwhelming," said Sam's dad Tim Holmes.

He says his son was bright, witty, and had a great sense of humor.

He was also a standout golfer. He led Glendale to a high school state team title as a senior.

"We tried our best and he just could not see any future that didn't include the pain that he was suffering... the sleepless nights to being exhausted during the day. He would stay up all night long because he was so fearful facing the next day," his mother Mary Jane Holmes said.

Depression, she says, gripped him for years... as it does countless others. Anecdotally speaking, the Lost and Found Grief Center of the Ozarks says their clientele is sadly growing a lot.

"It's that crisis in mental health care that exists in our society and it's here in Springfield," said Lost and Found executive director Karen Scott. She says families have poured in over the last few weeks-- dealing with a young person's suicide death.

"I don't know the reasons behind that but the majority of them that have come to our awareness are a result of long-term depression and anxiety... families that did try to get help and were aware of it, but it wasn't working," said Scott.

"The lack of psychiatrists, we have to wait 8 months, maybe longer to get in," said Mrs. Holmes. "A parent's worse pain is not being able to help their child... and so I just feel relief. I miss him very much and always will."

The Holmes' say those struggling with depression should not do it alone.

"I just want to reach out to every mother and father out there-- I would love to talk with them and give them support however I can," Mary Jane said.

"I think the most important thing is for people to talk about suicide. Take away the stigma and acknowledge that there are many people that you may not realize-- again because we have this stigma about depression and mental health-- there are many people who struggle with depression and many of them are young and you may not know it," Scott said.

Visitation is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday at Gorman Scharpf Funeral Home, with funeral service at 2 p.m. Wednesday at The Venues.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Missouri State University Foundation, in care of the men’s golf program.