It’s hard to ignore the ever-increasing headlines surrounding suicide in the news. It seems almost daily we come across another heartbreaking story of a person that made the decision to end his or her own life. We recently spoke with a Moore County resident on the loss of her husband.
Whispering Pines resident Holly Biggs Webb shares her story
Holly shared her personal experience after losing the man she refers to as her soul-mate to suicide.
Born in Moore County, Holly, 45, grew up in Raeford and moved to Whispering Pines when she was 18 and has worked as a nurse her whole life.
Holly spent the majority of her career at First Health working across a variety of areas including med-surg, ER and cardiology. She now works in home health, working for Liberty Home Care.
Holly is a single mom, currently raising three boys, Ethan, 14, Evan, 12 and Collin, 11.
James Webb & Holly Biggs Webb. (Contributed photo)
On Jan 16, 2017, her husband, James R. Webb, MSGT, USAF-R, a military veteran, who was currently employed as a school teacher at Lee County Schools, took his own life.
Holly and Jamie met in January 2014 and were married in 2015. They were married for a year and a half before he committed suicide at the age of 45.
Jamie was in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years and spent one year doing civilian contract work after leaving the military in 2009. While in the Air Force, he was deployed for a good part of his career, including several deployments in Afghanistan.
Jamie then became a civilian contractor for the last 15 months of his career, leaving that position in 2011.
When they met in 2014, Jamie was working on his degree in Education at Fayetteville State.
Holly believes the majority of Jamie’s psychological damage occurred when he was working as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan doing surveillance work. His job was to provide intelligence to the military that was often used to “take out an entire neighborhood,” including the civilian population he was monitoring, according to Holly.
The warning signs and attempts to get help
When they were dating, Holly noticed mood swings that did occur infrequently; however, it wasn’t until after they were married and living together that she began to witness “irrational tendencies” and “erratic behavior” which included unexplained disappearances in the middle of the night and for several days at a time.
Holly mentioned before they met, Jamie did reach out and sought help at the local VA hospital in Fayetteville on several occasions, informing the VA that he was struggling and “not in a good place.” He was given a prescription (Holly was not sure for exactly what, but assumes it was for an anti-depressant as Jamie said it made him “loopy”), and a follow up appointment was scheduled for four months later.
(Note: The Sandhills Sentinel did reach out to the VA for comment; however, we have not yet received a response).
Jamie was never seen by a psychologist or counselor at the VA. He took his medication for several days. Holly stated that Jamie soon discontinued the prescribed medication as it made him feel weird.
Holly looks over the journal she shared with her James. The journal contains notes they wrote to each other, which was kept in their kitchen. ~ Sandhills Sentinel.
After one extended disappearance by Jamie, Holly withdrew Jamie from care at the VA and sought help from local medical providers.
In 2015, his private care included a medication regime and counseling. After two months, Holly said that Jamie showed improvement. However, soon after, his care was interrupted due to his health care provider having his medical license temporarily suspended.
After his provider was cleared of all charges, Jamie and Holly hit another complication. The medical practice his provider was affiliated with stopped accepting Tricare insurance.
Holly said, “After that, we were back to square one.”
Another provider stepped in for one counseling session but soon left the practice after one counseling appointment.
“We lost literally every opportunity for psychological counseling in this area for the rest of his life,” said Holly.
“Now there are options, but then, there were none. Either they did not take Tricare, or they would not see him because nobody wanted to touch it. And that is the fact of the matter.” Nobody wants to get involved.”
“No one in town would see him or manage him.” – Holly Biggs Webb
Jamie’s care tapered off in 2016. According to Holly, “It was a rocky year for us as a married couple.” Jamie completed his teaching degree in 2016 and worked for about six months, student teaching in Moore County. A time that Holly said she saw “a renewed joy” in him.
Jamie accepted a position with Lee County Schools and began teaching at East Lee Middle School in August 2016 and taught until his untimely death in 2017. Jamie taught eighth grade science and according to Holly, “his kids loved him.” During that time Jamie was voted “the best teacher.”
Jamie took his life on Jan 16, 2017. The prior evening, Holly noticed a difference in Jamie after he returned from dropping his daughter off at his ex-wife’s home.
Holly’s late husband’s memorial displayed in her living room ~ Sandhills Sentinel.
Jamie left for the evening to get coffee at Starbucks. He never came home – telling Holly that he was out driving and was getting a hotel for the night and that he would see her in the morning.
The morning of January 16, Holly and Jamie spoke. Jamie told Holly he would be home in a little while.
There were a series of text messages that went back and forth between Jamie and Holly around noon that day. One in which his response text message, when asked by Holly about his medications, was, “I won’t be needing them anymore.”
The very last text message Holly received from Jamie, “I love you, I have always loved you. You are my soulmate, and I can’t do this anymore.”
EMS was called four minutes later.
After spending a night in a hotel, Jamie got up that morning, went to Waffle House, got the oil changed in his car, and had the car washed and detailed.
Jamie then went to Guns Plus in Spring Lake and rented a gun for target shooting. Jamie purchased ammunition and even joked with the guy at the front desk.
In the shooting stall, Jamie unloaded his rounds, which, according to Holly were all perfect—he was a marksmen. Jamie then turned the gun on himself. The last bullet he had went into his brain, while Jamie was still in the shooting stall.
Jamie left behind Holly, his three children from a previous marriage and Holly’s three boys that he was helping to raise.
“Jamie fell through the cracks, and they were big cracks. And they are not getting any better, in my opinion.” – Holly Biggs Webb
Holly shares her story with Sandhills Sentinel.
Published data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to suicide states “since 2008, suicide has ranked as the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States.”
Data from the National Vital Statistics System on mortality states from 1999 – 2017, the age-adjusted suicide rate increased 33% from 10.5 to 14.0 per 100,000 people.
This 2019 article published by American Psychological Association on suicide trends goes into detail on the complexity of the issue and points out that rates do rise and fall and that identifying the reasons for fluctuating numbers is difficult, as the reasons for suicide are complex.
To view a graph on North Carolina veterans’ suicide rates, please click here.
Suicide in Moore County
Of the 100 counties in North Carolina, the latest data shows that Moore County ranks 29th (Tied with Pasquotank County) in the state with respect to the suicide rate.
The suicide rate in Moore County is 16.1 per 100,000 people. North Carolina county rankings can be found here. (Note: Counties with 20 or less suicide deaths are not given a rate or ranking). Data from 2009-2013 and 2004-2009 has also been included. (Information provided by Moore County Health Department).
Between the years of 2014-2018, 80 people committed suicide in Moore County. The total number of suicide deaths across North Carolina for the same time period was 7,152. A complete listing of cause of death data, county by county, can be found here.
If you have thoughts of suicide or know someone who does, here is a list of local resources
National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1 800 273-8255
Daymark – https://www.daymarkrecovery.org/locations/moore-center Daymark offers walk-in crisis services for adults and children. They have a 24-hour crisis hotline 866.275.9552
FirstHealth — https://www.firsthealth.org/specialties/more-services/behavioral-services FirstHealth’s Behavioral Services division offers a variety of services. They can assist anyone with concerns about things like depression, stress, trauma, PTSD, grief, anger, anxiety, etc.
Sandhills Center — https://www.sandhillscenter.org/ Sandhills Center can assist individuals with connecting with mental health providers and services. They have a 24-hour line 800.256.2452
Moore County Veteran’s Services – https://www.moorecountync.gov/veterans-services A local resource for veterans who may be seeking help with all facets of their life after service. 910.947.3257
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Maggie Sergio.