Michelle Whitney of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, says no parent should have to bury their child. But as the mother of 22-year-old Christopher Lastatte Heuss of Huntingdon, she experienced that pain on March 17 of this year when her son took his own life.
The pain of loss in the young man’s life may have been a contributing factor to him taking a handgun and ending his own life, she feels.
His father Jeff Heuss, with whom he was living, died in Jan. of 2016 at the age of 43 of a heart attack. His grandmother, Carol Heuss, who lived with he and his father, died in May 2017, of cancer. He then lived alone, although his uncle, Mike Heuss, lived nearby.
“A year ago he began to feel like he was worthless,” said Whitney. “He would just say it was nothing when I asked him about it. His friends had no clue that it would lead to suicide.”
According to statistics, in the United State alone, someone dies by suicide once every 12 minutes. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24.
Suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death (2016 data) in Tennessee, claiming over 1,000 lives per year. Roughly, 100 of these are between the age of 10-24.
Christopher graduated from Clarksburg High School in 2016. He had worked at Dollar Tree in Huntingdon and was a student at the University of Memphis campus in Jackson where he was taking photojournalism. He enjoyed being with friends and he loved cars, a love that was developed in his childhood days. He loved photography and was always making photos, according to his mother who said he was an artist as well.
In June 2019, he wrecked his 1989 Mustang on Highway 22 at 3 a.m. when he ran into a culvert. He suffered a concussion and scratches. He had already wrecked a vehicle in May 2017.
“At first he was ok, but then he started drinking a lot,” said his mother.
She was in contact with him every week. However, it had gotten to the point, she said, where it was mostly through texting and not through actual conversation. She said she had no idea that he was so depressed and suicidal.
He had wrecked a third vehicle on the day he died by suicide.
He left a will and a note. His friends also found his plan on the way he would end his life.
Christopher Lastatte Heuss’ young life
Christopher Lastatte Heuss was born Nov. 16, 1997, in Gallatin to Michelle Whitney of Lake Mills, Wisconsin and Jeff Heuss of Huntingdon, who is now deceased.
The family moved to Delavan, Wisconsin for a year before moving to Huntingdon in 1999. As a youngster he would accompany his mother to work at Advance Auto Parts in Huntingdon. The employees marveled at his knowledge of cars because he could name every make and model that drove up.
“Everyone that met him fell in love with him,” said his mom.
His parents divorced and Whitney moved to Lake Mills, Wisconsin in 2009.
However, Christopher decided to remain in Carroll County with his dad because he didn’t want to change schools, according to his mom.
Besides going to college, he was about to start a new job, his mom said.
A memorial service was held on Aug. 29 at Yuma Community Center, located on Old School House Road.
His uncle, Mike Heuss delivered the eulogy with Rev. Jacob Harris, pastor of Huntingdon First Baptist Church, presented the message at the memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Whitney says to make sure to always talk with your kids.
“Tell them how important they are and keep a line of communication open,” she said. “Make sure they know they are loved and cared for and that there is help out there for them.”