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NEWS CENTER Maine's Sam Rogers shares how he has changed since losing his brother to suicide

Rogers' brother died by suicide in March of 2022.

PORTLAND, Maine — Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States and in Maine, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

In Maine, 234 died by suicide in 2022. It was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 35 in the state.

Sara Asch, the bereavement services coordinator for the Center for Grieving Children in Portland, said suicide is one of the top reasons people come to the center.

"I wouldn't say it's exponential, but it's significant," Asch said.

The trend also touched the family of NEWS CENTER Maine reporter and anchor Sam Rogers. His brother, Jake, died by suicide in March of 2022.

"It came out of nowhere," Rogers said. "I am still very frustrated."

Jake was adopted when Sam was 5 years old. Jake struggled with ADHD, as well as his connection to his birth parents. Rogers said it strained his relationship with his brother. His family sought professional help for Jake, including a therapist and a life coach.

"When we talked, it was all positive. I'm frustrated that he didn't reach out to me. I'm frustrated that I didn't reach out to him," Rogers said. "He was hiding it so well."

The last time they talked, Rogers said his brother had started a new job.

"He said he loved me over the phone. The next call I got was my mom telling me that he had killed himself," Rogers said. "I get frustrated in what he made our parents go through. Knowing so many parents now, I can't stop thinking about what they would have to go through."

Rogers said his brother's death by suicide changed his family, his memories, and ultimately his outlook on career and family balance. He said being a champion for mental health takes on new meaning for him.

"He wasn't alone. He thought he was. It wasn't just me, my mom, and dad," Rogers said. "It was cousins, aunts, uncles that will never get the chance to tell him that again."

Rogers said he felt the two had grown closer recently and were on the verge of reconnecting as adults.

"It's been tough to swallow he won't be my best man. He won't meet the person that I want to be with for the rest of my life. He won't meet my kids. I won't meet his kids. I think that's been the toughest thing to think about is we just won't have those memories," Rogers said. "As cliché as it is, I wanted that. It will never happen. That's the worst part about it. I won't get to be an 'Uncle Sam.'"

Now, Rogers said he is committed to prioritizing his happiness, family time, and mental health, while encouraging others to do the same.

He, his family, and his friends recently participated in the 2022 Central Massachusetts Out of the Darkness Walk in Worcester.

Let's talk about it

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are resources right here in Maine that can help navigate through those thoughts and find a path to hope. 

Maine Crisis Hotline: 1-888-568-1112

Click here for a list of resources by county

Maine teen text support
This peer support text line is for Maine youth 13 to 24 years old and is staffed by individuals 18 to 24. Talk about your feelings and get support from another young person. Daily from noon to 10 p.m. EST at 207-515-8398

For the latest breaking news, weather, and traffic alerts, download the NEWS CENTER Maine mobile app.

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