Canyon County officials say former state representative Brandon Hixon was found dead at his home Tuesday morning of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The county coroner’s office says a family member discovered Hixon’s body. The office has ruled the death a suicide and will not perform an autopsy.
Audible gasps were heard in the House Chamber as Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) announced the news Tuesday.
“Our thoughts go first to his family and friends who are suffering from this loss. This serves as a reminder to all of us that we should cherish and support those who are close to us when they are struggling,” Bedke said.
Hixon had been recently marred by legal trouble: He was under investigation for sexual abuse by the Idaho attorney general’s office and had been arrested for two driving under the influence charges in December.
The three-term House member suddenly resigned from his seat in October.
The Idaho Statesman reported at the time he had previously been investigated for inappropriately touching someone – possibly a child – in 2014, but charges were never brought.
After hosting a prayer in the House Chamber, Bedke told the Associated Press will eventually hold some kind of fundraiser for Hixon’s four children, who range in age from 6 to 17.
“I think it reminds me how much the death of a celebrity can have an impact on people because I feel like I know him more because he was a public officials – even though I only had limited interaction with him,” says John Reusser, director of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline.
He says the news sends the message that any one of us is vulnerable, but that resources – including his 24-hour, seven day a week hotline – are available to help prevent these deaths.
“Our volunteers are trained to listen in a nonjudgmental, compassionate and empathetic way, talk with people about their feelings, assess their safety, refer them to resources throughout the state – be that counseling, substance abuse treatment or support groups,” Reusser says.
Idaho has the eighth highest rate of suicide in the country, he notes, with western states historically ranking higher than others.
Seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or by calling or texting 208-398-4357 if you or someone you know exhibits the following signs:
• Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
• Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
• Talking about being a burden to others.
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
• Sleeping too little or too much.
• Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
• Displaying extreme mood swings.
• Preoccupation with death.
• Suddenly happier, calmer.
• Loss of interest in things one cares about.
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
• Making arrangements; setting one’s a airs in order.
• Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
• Themes of death or depression in conversation, writing, reading or art.
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