Austin Eubanks, a survivor of the Columbine High School shootings and a motivational speaker about opioid abuse and trauma, was found dead in his Colorado home Saturday. He was 37.
Eubanks was 17 at the time of the attack in Colorado, where he was shot in the hand and knee. He witnessed the situation unfold from the library, while he hid under a table, and his friend, Corey Depooter, died next to him. Fifteen people, including the shooters, died in the April 1999 massacre.
“Corey was my best friend who was under the same table in the library with me that day, and he did not make it out alive,” Eubanks told VICE News last month.
In the months following the massacre, Eubanks said he became addicted to opioid painkillers prescribed for his injuries. In a statement to CNN, his family said Eubanks “lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others face.” The cause of death has not been determined; his autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
Eubanks devoted much of his life post-Columbine to speaking about his addiction and ongoing recovery. Apart from his motivational speaking career, Eubanks worked in an addiction treatment center, according to CBS News.
“I was an emotional disaster, and I turned to substances almost immediately in order to cope,” Eubanks said in an interview with VICE News prior to his death.
Prior to Eubanks’ death, the suicides of school shooting survivors reignited conversation about the effects of that trauma and mental health. Two survivors of the Valentine’s Day massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, took their own lives this year.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a substance use disorder, call 1-800-662-HELP or visit https://www.samhsa.gov/find-tr... to find help. Or, if you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741, or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.... for more information.