Hey CalCoastNews, Stop Exploiting Depression and Suicide

Aaron Ochs
6 min readApr 2, 2020
13-year-old Nailani “Ni Ni” Ubay Buchholtz

This is the column I was going to write last week but didn’t.

Someone I personally knew attempted suicide last month. Luckily, they survived.

The circumstances surrounding SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill’s attempted suicide are murky. The Tribune did confirm Hill’s office at the County Government Center was searched by the FBI merely hours before he attempted to take his own life. We don’t know much else. It’s not my place to speculate like others have on certain websites.

Some have said, “Of course he tried to kill himself. He’s guilty.” They’re not sure what he’s guilty of, but they believe he’s guilty because he attempted suicide — as if to say that suicidal people are inherently guilty by default. Some have even made light of it because they believe he’s so guilty of whatever they think he did, there’s no reason to show empathy. Others have pointed to his admitted mental health struggles as a reason he should immediately resign — as if to say people with mental health struggles should not serve in public positions.

If Hill did something that’s criminal in nature, he should face justice. If he’s guilty of even half the accusations they’ve levied against him for nearly a decade, then Hill should do the honorable thing and resign. But that opinion should remain independent from the notion that depression exhibited by people you don’t like is worth mockery and exploitation.

The way this story developed and the conversation surrounding it personally moved me. When I first read about Hill’s attempted suicide, the first thought that came to mind was: This is what happens when the same people attack someone on a weekly basis for years. I’m talking about people who not only wrote hundreds of articles about him, they stalked him. They attacked his family, his wife and step-children. They repeatedly sued him and lost. They believe he is responsible for the damages they suffered to their reputation. Without evidence, they claimed he orchestrated co-founder Karen Velie’s DUI arrest in 2013. Without evidence, they indicated he was also responsible for the “kidnapping” of Velie’s grandchildren later that year. They’ve harassed, stalked and even threatened people they believe — without evidence — are involved with Hill in a conspiracy to…

Aaron Ochs

Author, artist, advocate and entrepreneur from Morro Bay, California.