Suicide attempt survivor shares story of resiliency and hope

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Maxim Meier, 7th Airlift Squadron, C-17A Loadmaster
  • 62d Airlift Wing

Senior Airman Maxim Meier represents the 7th Airlift Squadron as their suicide prevention advocate, sharing his experience as an attempt survivor every week to raise awareness about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and destigmatize mental health issues.

On May 17, 2022, while on my way to work after a particularly bad morning, I decided to turn my car around, head home, and take my life. After nine impossibly long months where every single day was a struggle, I couldn’t take it anymore. I just wanted it to end. Never in my life had I felt so alone, like no one could understand me.

On Aug. 26, 2021, my life, and the lives of so many changed forever. In the Abbey Gate attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul Afghanistan, 11 Marines, one Sailor, and one Soldier paid the ultimate sacrifice defending me, my crew, and thousands of civilians. We were the only American C-17 there. I felt and continue to feel responsible for the people that died that day; because I know they died protecting me, or desperately needing my help.

While running missions in and out of Afghanistan, I began having nightmares. Shortly after the nightmares reared their ugly heads, came daily, hour long panic attacks. I was diagnosed with PTSD in November 2021 and I was living in a world of fear, panic and depression.

On the day of my attempt, I mourned some of the joys I had experienced for the last time. How I would never be able to train in martial arts again, never get to lie on the couch and watch “Stranger Things” with my wife, or never dance around with my dog again.

In a very lucky moment of lucidity, I thought to myself, “There will always be another time to do this, but once I have, I can never go back.” I called my first sergeant and senior master sergeant. On that day, they saved my life; they didn’t judge me or make me feel less than. Senior stayed on the line until the first sergeant met me at my work parking lot, and then we drove to the behavioral health clinic together.

I talked to the provider there for hours, and we created a plan, in case I ever feel like that again. I carry a paper copy of that plan with me, just in case. It has been four months since that day, and I’ve made so much progress. Every time I talk about what happened, I heal a little more.

The support of everyone around me is really what made me keep fighting in my worst times. It felt like I was doing a trust fall with my command, behavioral health, family and friends and they caught me. What I mean by that is every time I asked them what I should do, they always reminded me what was important and to have hope.

I am confident that if I had not received the support that I did, I wouldn’t be here sharing my story. People have told me they got help because they heard my story. Hearing about what I went through made it less scary, and has given other Airmen the confidence to come forward and seek help. I feel incredibly honored, and just want to make sure today’s Airmen are prepared to catch their wingmen, like mine did for me.

If I could go back to that day I would tell myself one thing: your own strength is not your only strength. I have found taking control of my emotional health by making it so public has given me the strength of everyone who supports me, and if I start to think negatively about myself, I think of all the kind words people have said to me after my brief.

I remember that I am more than just my own strength but the strength of the community around me. Using all your resources is using all your strength. I’m proud I got help and I’m proud that because of that phone call, I get to help people.

If you have a military family member you think might be struggling with thoughts of suicide, visit:
The National Suicide Prevention Line is 988. For more information on suicide prevention, visit: