Utah man survives drug use, self-inflicted gunshot wound
When Casey Tucker was a child, the concept of drug use was not uncommon. He grew up with a mother who allowed drugs in the household and the two of them had very little money. According to Casey, the two rarely got along, which led to violence in the household. His mother often beat him during arguments, creating tension between the two that to this day still hasn’t been mended.
He also got bullied a lot because his mother wasn’t able to afford the nicest clothes.
“I had a rough childhood growing up … When I was going to school, I wouldn’t have very nice clothes and stuff like that. I used to get made fun of a lot in school,” he described.
In order to fit in at school, he made a decision that would ultimately shape his life of addiction forever — he started hanging out with the wrong crowd.
Drug use at 14-years-old
By the time he was 14 years old, Casey’s drug addiction had escalated. He began smoking crack cocaine after experimenting with marijuana at 13 years old.
“It started from just smoking weed at friends’ house … It seemed innocent at the time.”
At the same time, Casey began to use heavier drugs. The appeal and supposed “innocence” of marijuana eventually led to his use of crack cocaine but the biggest reason he attributes his illegal drug use to — attempting to fit in.
“There came a night where it was presented to me and I was like, ‘Hey, why not?’ Just to fit in,” he said. “It was alluring to be around all of these older guys.” The amount of attention that Casey was receiving was a completely new and exuberant experience. His chaotic home life with his mother was a somber and dark place in comparison to partaking in these illicit drugs with his supposed friends.
Unfortunately, Casey’s drug use would only escalate throughout the years.
Getting into trouble early
He began to become familiar with local law enforcement due to various incarcerations as a young adult. In search of the acceptance he so desperately desired, he joined a gang and almost immediately got arrested for assault.
“I spent from the time I was about 16 years old from the time I was 18 in youth corrections. I got out of youth corrections on my 18th birthday,” he said.
Casey ended up spending two years in the facility, mostly due to continuing to display improper behavior. While spending two years completely locked away from friends and family would usually lead someone to seek help and turn things around, Casey doubled-down and immediately purchased a $256 bag of marijuana and quit his job.
Beaten to the brink of death
The entire time Casey was serving his sentence for his previous assault charge, his focus was with his gang. So much so, he decided to try and rejoin, this time though, the partnership wasn’t mutual. Casey’s connection with the gang had been severed since his time in youth corrections and he was about to pay the price for going rogue.
“I had been gone away for a little while. I hadn’t been in contact with them and it made them upset,” he said.
What followed was Casey being forced into an apartment where he was beaten with baseball bats, tire irons, and stabbed eleven times. They turned on him. The only “friends” he had left in the world ultimately wanted him dead. He suffered a fractured skull, brain damage, and a collapsed lung — he was lucky to be alive. But after all of the harm that these people put him through, he never told the police who had almost taken his life.
“I didn’t want to tell anybody … I was angry. That level of animosity that was shown towards me just enraged me to indescribable levels. That’s what propelled me even further into addiction, even further into drugs,” he added.
Casey had almost had his life taken away from him due to his drug use. While many would view that as a second chance, Casey didn’t. He continued to use hard drugs to numb the pain he was experiencing.
“I had a victim mentality. I’d been jumped. I had people try to take my life. My mom had wronged me. My real father had basically abandoned me. I’m a victim. All of this stuff has happened because of all of these other people,” he exclaimed.
The moment that changed his life forever
Ultimately, all of Casey’s drug use led him to be unable to keep a job. His drug use and self-inflicted behavior were causing him to just skate by in life. He was experiencing signs of depression and only subduing it with marijuana and alcohol. He was beginning to question his life choices after quitting a job as a metal fabricator in northern Utah, Casey began to feel hopeless.
“One night, I took some mushrooms with some friends to party and after that night was winding down, I remember going up to my room and sitting there and was thinking to myself: ‘Who are you? What are you doing? Who have you become? You’re not successful. You’ve stolen from your family. You’ve stolen from your friends.”‘
As he sat at the edge of his bed, crying into his hands. Casey had made the decision, he wasn’t going to go on any longer.
“I remember getting up and going to the bathroom … I remember just collapsing to my hands and knees in the bathroom and I just started sobbing.”
Emotion began to overwhelm him. Casey remembers uncontrollably vomiting all over the cold bathroom floor. As he laid there, he thought about a small firearm he had purchased for protection, just in case he was ever approached by his former gang again.
“The decision was made. I knew what I was going to do.”
Casey jumped up from the cold bathroom floor and went into his room, shut the door, pulled the pistol from the bedside drawer, put it to his chin and pulled the trigger.
Learning how to live again
The bullet entered the bottom of Casey’s chin and exited through the bridge of his nose. His grandma, who he was living with at the time, began to yell at him, questioning what he had done; she immediately called 9-1-1. Casey sat there in pain, ears ringing, completely conscious, wondering what just happened. He sat there for a few minutes and began to experience immense blood loss due to the injury.
Then in a moment of clarity, it all clicked. Casey was going to drive himself to the hospital. He was going to die there on the floor — he was going to live. So, he rose up and began to walk down the stairs; only to come face-to-face with paramedics and the Weber County sheriff.
Upon arrival at the hospital, Casey would enter a medically induced coma for a week. He would receive multiple blood transfusions to replace the blood loss that he suffered from the injury. Surgeons began to repair his jaw, tongue, the bridge of his nose, and hard palate. After a week in the hospital, he awoke confused and wondering what had happened.
For the next month, Casey would see long-lost friends and family every day. All wondering why he decided to try and take his own life. Even after everything he had been through, he didn’t have an answer to why he had done what he did.
Casey’s recovery process consisted of six months of learning how to walk and read again. He says the physical rehab was grueling enough but wasn’t even the hardest part. The worst part was to repair the damage he had done to himself mentally.
“When you do something like that, I lost trust in myself, completely,” he described. “That lasted a decade. It was tough.”
Finally overcoming drug use
Since his injury, Casey has since moved on from his heavy drug use and is still coping with the fallout of his decisions throughout his life, both physical and mental. As a result, he believes he has finally found what causes him so much pain.
“I didn’t have any self-worth. I didn’t have any value in myself and that’s what took me a long time to realize and I had lost my self-worth. That’s what I had done what I did in grade school. Instead of accepting who I was and caring about who I was, I cared more about what other people were thinking about me than I cared about anything else,” he said. “I’m glad to be alive.”
If you or anyone you know may be struggling, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline directly by calling 1-800-273-8255 or you can visit the ‘Project Recovery‘ page on KSLTV.com.