Shooting death of Alabama man in Huntsville reignites conversation about mental health

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Conversations about mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic reignited a day after an armed man was shot and killed by Huntsville police.

A crisis negotiation team spent hours trying to talk 41-year-old Bradley Pugh off a restaurant rooftop in downtown Huntsville Monday.

Police say Pugh eventually agreed to surrender and came down a ladder but then he apparently took off and pointed a gun at officers, who fired back.

Just one day before Pugh’s death, the Athens man wrote on what is believed to be his Facebook page, “I feel like my time is up. I could be wrong but. Sorry I destroyed everyone’s life that touched mine. Facts.”

Dr. Patrick Quirk, a clinical psychologist, says COVID-19 has taken a toll on those with no prior history of struggling with mental health. But it’s been even worse for those with pre-existing conditions.

“If the feeling is loneliness, then I’m going to feel much more lonely. If the issues are depression then I’m going to feel much more depressed. If I have anxiety issues I’m likely to become much more anxious,” said Dr. Quirk, “This is the very change of situation where we’ve lost a lot of those things that are the basic supports of what allows us to feel secure in life and have a sense of peace of mind.”

Scattered across Pugh’s apparent Facebook page, were hints of loneliness and isolation, emotions that William Kennedy who heads up social work for the State’s Department of Public Health says have been unprecedented this year.

“It’s been a lot going on in 2020 besides just the COVID. We’ve had a lot of natural disasters, hurricanes, flooding. In addition, you have social unrest as well as what’s going on in the political field. So I think all of those things are just piling up on people,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy says there is help available through a number of resources provided by the Alabama Department of Public health and is also urging friends and family to check in on loved ones who they’re concerned about.

Suicide Facts 2020:
https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/suicide/assets/suicidefactsheet2020.pdf

Suicide Prevention Crisis Numbers:
https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/suicide/crisis-numbers.html

Men’s Health:
https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/menshealth/index.html

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