Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall offered details Wednesday around his wife’s long battle with mental illness, leading her to ultimately take her own life this past Sunday. In an emotional press conference, Marshall said he wanted to clear up rumors and speculation about his family.
Marshall said his wife Bridgette suffered from migraines since childhood. He said she became dependent on an array of opioids she had been prescribed by doctors. She went through treatment, but Marshall said she never fully recovered. He said his wife was also diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety after they were married and had several in-patient treatment stays, including one that was involuntary. He said she also suffered from a digestive disorder which required a feeding tube.
“Being married to me probably didn’t help,” Marshall said, “because it caused somebody who was anxious to also sometimes be in the public eye and that is not where she wanted to be.”
Marshall said Bridgette still encouraged him to pursue the attorney general position calling her his biggest fan. She did not move with Marshall to Montgomery when he was appointed attorney general and he said she was concerned her medical history would become public during election season. She moved to Tennessee earlier this year. Marshall says they last spent time together around the June 5th primary and she appeared to be doing well. But her condition deteriorated in recent weeks. Marshall said he spoke to Bridgette on the phone shortly before her death Sunday and described her as someone in pain who had no hope.
“I told her why she wasn’t [a burden],” Marshall said. “As a guy who professionally is supposed to be able to convince people with words to do something, I couldn’t reach her … For me, I wonder whether or not if I wasn’t attorney general she’d still be alive.”
Marshall asked for privacy for the family, noting it was the third suicide their extended family has experienced.
“We just want to be able to mourn. And we don’t want to talk about her death but we want to talk about her life,” Marshall said.
Bridgette Marshall was a hospice volunteer who Marshall says touch the lives of many people in the community. He said he was sharing Bridgette’s story publicly to encourage other families who may be dealing with mental health issues.
“Maybe for that person who felt like Bridgette did on Sunday morning, to know that there is hope and that there are people who love them.”
Marshall is seeking reelection and faces former Attorney General Troy King in a July 17 Republican runoff.
Updated 6/28/18 to add additional details and quotes.