Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall spoke publically about his wife’s suicide on Wednesday.
Bridgette Marshall committed suicide on Sunday morning and Steve Marshall said he wanted to share the story of her life with the public so people would understand the circumstances surrounding her death.
“And so, to the people of this community, to the people of this county and to the people of this state, we are humbled, we’re grateful and we are thankful, but, I will tell you this, it is not our desire to be here today,” Marshall said. “We were forced to be here today.
“I know I am speaking to you in some ways as the Attorney General of Alabama, but I’m a dad and I’m a husband. And I watched my daughter read a reckless article last night that disclosed the circumstances of how Bridget died and where. And I watched my daughter in tears. Because Bridget is not a public figure, I am. She didn’t want the lime-light. She didn’t want to be in front. She always was behind.
“And for Faith to suffer through that last night, as a father, angered me and it angered our family. And so, when we should’ve been sharing stories of Bridget’s life last night as a family, we were talking about how to respond. Because that story was only filled with half-truths, it’s not the full-story of how it is that we stand here so sad today. And what it gave rise to was the opportunity for rumor, for gossip and for people to say things that were reckless. And we weren’t going to stand for that.
“And as a dad, I’m not going to let my daughter go through that. We also, together as a family, realized that maybe being transparent about how we got to the point where we did last Sunday could be helpful. Because we know that we’re not the only family that has had to deal with a family member who’s suffered from mental health issues. And we know that Bridgette is not the only person that ever considered suicide.
“And so, it is our hope today to share her story, to also give strength to those families who have endured what we have endured. And maybe for that person who felt like that Bridgette did Sunday morning, to know that there is hope and that there are people that love them.
“So, here’s Bridget’s story, early on in life she suffered migraines. As a kid, she’d spend a lot of time in the bathroom because she was nauseous and sick. She’d come home, spend days in dark bedrooms trying to get over the pain, but they didn’t go away. They carried through her adult life.
“And during the time that we were married, we went to many neurologists and other specialists. We spent three weeks at a migraine clinic in Chicago, but nothing helped. The only regiment that she ultimately was given was opioids. And it was during that period of time where doctors were trained that maybe a little more will help if the first part doesn’t solve the problem. And maybe if a little more doesn’t help, maybe we just need to increase the frequency a little bit. And not only did she have Hydrocodone, but ultimately Phytanoyl, an amazingly powerful drug.
“And Bridget became dependent, she became dependent on that medication. She went to inpatient treatment, it helped some. But she didn’t completely embrace recovery. And even to the time of her death, did not always handle her medication in a way that she should. It is one reason why, professionally, you hear me talking about opioids, it’s personal.”
Marshall said his wife fully supported him in his work as district attorney for Marshall County and as Alabama’s Attorney General as well as his campaign for a second term as attorney general.
“But that didn’t necessarily make it easy for her,” Marshall said. “In fact, she made the decision to stay in Albertville and not come to Montgomery because she just didn’t want to be in the public eye.
“We sold our house in February of this year. And right before we had to move out, Bridgette came to her parents and me, and said ‘I can’t take this.’ I can’t take this because at that point she felt like she was being followed that folks were watching where she went and where she was going. And I don’t know if that was true, but that was her perception and that was her reality.
“She also was worried for me. Because she had seen the negative articles that were false and malicious, that were written by some on blogs that claim to be journalists. And she saw what they were doing in making up facts, and she was scared that somebody was going to write the fact that she was committed and that she had a problem, and that those facts were going to be revealed to the world. And she didn’t want that.
“And so her answer was to leave the state. Not because she didn’t love her family, and that she didn’t love her husband, but because of the way she perceived her life it was her only option.”
Marshall said the family respected her decision and he talked with Bridgette Marshall by phone every day. Marshall said she also kept in contact with other members of the family.
“She came down on election night,” Marshall said. “As a family we had the opportunity to be together, and she was as happy as I’d seen her in a long time.
“The next day was her birthday. She spent it with Faith and I. She came back to Albertville and had a big dinner with the people who loved her and we saw a happiness that we hadn’t seen in her in a while. And it was good. It was good.
“And then for whatever reason, something changed and we don’t know what. We had difficulty getting in touch with her. We couldn’t find her sometimes to talk to her on the phone.
“And then she began to tell us about her stomach causing her problems again, and we said go to the doctor. She said, ‘ I’m afraid they’re going to put me in hospital.’ And we said ‘Well you probably need it then.’ But she didn’t want to go.
“And then Saturday, strangely, she had [blisters] that showed up on her feet. It was odd. It was strange. We didn’t know what it was and she didn’t know what is was until Saturday night after she had started sending pictures asking what is this and why is this going on. Her parents talked to her and I talked to her and we convinced her to go to the hospital the next day and she said she would go. And that’s how we knew what her apartment number was.
“Her mom and dad had planned to drive up there the next day to get her and take her to the hospital. Her mom had packed a bag to stay with her a couple days and help her.
“And they called Sunday morning and she said ‘I won’t be alive when you get here. I won’t be alive when you get here.’ And Bridgette’s mom called me and told me, and I said let me talk to her. I got on the phone with her and I just talked to a person that had no hope. She said ‘I don’t have a purpose. And I’m tired. And my body is failing me and I don’t know why. I’ve had pain for a long time and I don’t want to endure it anymore, and I’m just a burden.’ And I told her why she wasn’t. I told her how she was loved. As a guy who professionally is supposed to be able to convince people with words to do something, I couldn’t reach her.
“And she said ‘I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of being tired and I just want to go.’ And then she said, ‘do you want to hear it?’ and I [said] ‘No I don’t,’ and then she hung up the phone.
“We had called the police, and I continued to call her phone and she didn’t answer. And then we learned that she had died of a gunshot wound in that apartment. And our lives changed and changed forever.”
Marshall said the family needed time to grieve and mourn. But, he wanted people to understand what his wife faced and the family wanted to stop talking about her death and remember her life.
“I’ve gotten texts this morning about people who shared family stories and they said they understood,” Marshall said. “What we’re faced with is somewhat of a question of why? All of us over the last couple of days have each talked about what we could have done. How could we have somehow or another done something that would have changed how she perceived herself and others?
“For me, I wonder whether or not if I wasn’t attorney general would she still be alive? If I hadn’t chosen public service, whether she would still be here today? And I’ll be haunted for that for the rest of my life. As will those words in my failure to make her understand she didn’t need to do what she did. That is the story of her death.
“But what we want is to be able to focus on her life. The people here today know what a beautiful woman she was. And it wasn’t just outside, because she was absolutely stunning. But, it was inside as well.
“I could poll this room and how many of you would raise your hand about how she affected you in a positive way. Because that was her heart and that was her spirit. I’m going to hold on to that.
“I hope someday to be able to forget that conversation I had with her that Sunday morning, and I’m going to remember what she did for others.”
Bridgette Gentry Marshall’s funeral service will be held Friday, June 29, at 10 a.m. at McRae Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery. Bro. Gene Lambert and Bro. Bradley Walls will officiate. Visitation will be Thursday, June 28, from 5 to 8 p.m.