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From Chowchilla Kidnapping to the Death of Grayson Murray: How far have we come in mental health?

Welcome back to Consider Yourself Hugged! Click below to watch, or Click here to listen to Episode 170.

Welcome to week 5 of Mental Health Awareness Month! Today I'm discussing two seemingly unrelated topics: The 1976 Chowchilla kidnappings and the death by suicide of golfer Grayson Murray.

In 1976, 26 elementary and middle school kids and their bus driver were kidnapped by 3 armed men, their faces covered with panty hose. They were driven around for 11 hours and eventually forced to climb into a 26' trailer buried underground. After all 27 were in, the kidnappers sealed the opening and buried the remaining portion of the trailer with dirt. They dug themselves out after 16 hours. Their lives were forever changed, and because childhood trauma wasn't understood, their mental health was forever damaged.

This past week on Saturday, May 25th, pro-golfer Grayson Murray took his life after a fairly public battle with depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. In an interview last year (Link below), he said:

I just thought I was a failure. I always looked at myself as a failure. I thought I had a lot of talent that was just a waste of talent. It was a bad place, but like I said, you have to have courage. You have to have the willingness to keep going. Lo and behold, that’s what I did, and I’m here, and I’m so blessed and I’m thankful.

He was in the public eye, and felt like a failure.

How are they related? They are related because they both help us to see both how far we have come in treatment, help, and stigma surrounding mental health AND how much more there is to be done.

I hope you'll listen to today's episode. The reason it struck me so, in part, was because I WAS the age of those children during the Chowchilla kidnappings. In 1976 I was 12 years-old, the age where my panic attacks were debilitating, but panic attacks weren’t really a thing. I wasn’t understood. So, why did I not go down the path that some of the survivors did, including alcoholism and suicide? And, Grayson Murray was a Christian. I am a Christian. Why did he still battle, and why do I still battle anxiety?


I think the bottom line is this:

We have amazing treatments for heart disease. People still die.

We have new treatments for cancer. People still die.

With all the mental health treatments available now and to come, people will still struggle and people will still die. It breaks my hearth.


I was thinking deeper about that question, why didn’t I go down a worse path? For me, it was and is so many things:

  • My relationship with Jesus

  • My family & friends

  • Allowing myself to fail and to talk about it. Saying out loud, Oh gosh I messed that one up and realizing I am not perfect!

  • Continuing to learn and grown

  • Counseling

  • Medication for seasons in my life


As we end Mental Health Awareness Month, I encourage you on 2 fronts:


2.   Get trained in Mental Health First Aid. It truly changed how I view and interact with those who are struggling. I have 2 virtual classes coming up. Link with dates is below.


If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.


Thanks for joining!

I hope this has been helpful today, and thank you for joining! As I've always asked in the past, please pass the show link along to your friends and subscribe, download, and review wherever you are listening. If you’re a woman and you haven’t joined our private FB group A Place for Women, please do that now! It’ll be your source of encouragement. I'd love for you to follow my Tami West Seminars Facebook page as well. If you'd like to know more about my Mental Health First Aid Courses, contact me at 615-497-7714 or

And until next time, Consider Yourself Hugged 😘🤗


The information in this show is not intended to be therapy or to address your individual situation. It is information based on experiences, opinions, and research. If you need further help, please reach out to one of the resources below, or others in your area.

Mental Health Resources:

Tami West, PhD

Stress and Mental Health Expert Dr. Tami West uses her entertaining and compelling style to shine a new light on how to transform your life and discover solutions to life’s challenges.

Tami has worked in a variety of industries including healthcare, school nutrition, corporate sales, and 10 years as a public-school teacher. In 2013 she received her PhD in Human Development, studying the connections among stress, emotions, and identity.

Dr. West has spoken in 48 states across the US, as well as the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. In any given year, Tami speaks to groups with audiences consisting of anywhere from 100 to 3,000 people.

Dr. West is the author of several successful publications including three books: The Stress Club, Life Without the Monsters and Thrive. When she's not speaking or writing, you might find her with her traveling with her husband and family, reading historical fiction, or watching Big Bang Theory.

Tami connects with audiences through real experience, cutting edge research, and transparent stories – all sprinkled with humor! She will make you laugh, cry, and shine a refreshingly new light on life's challenges.

Television Interviews

Contact Tami at or follow her at Tami West Seminars. 

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