Ethiopian Adoptee Gabe Proctor, NCAA Champ, Died By Suicide

Earlier today, I wrote about the death by suicide of a deported Korean adoptee, Phillip Clay. I am deeply saddened to report another adoptee suicide.

Ethiopian adoptee Gabe Proctor was just 27 years old, and died by suicide this past Saturday at his adoptive parents’ home in Vermont. The obituary shared by his family said he had struggled with depression from which he could find no escape.

Originally from Mekelle, Ethiopia, Gabe was adopted along with his to Ethiopian siblings in 2000. They grew up in Vermont. He graduated from Western State Colorado University, where he was a world-class distance runner. He was a professional runner in the marathon and half marathon.

A runner friend shared her memories about Gabe here.

Donations in honor of Gabe can be sent to Hope for Youth Ethiopia. The address and more information are available here. His funeral service will be held in Vermont on Friday, May 26.

How many more times can we hear about these deaths, and not work harder to learn about depression and suicide prevention, especially among adopted persons?

My small contribution is to post fairly often about this painful reality, to share information about the trauma of adoption, as well as to provide suicide prevention resources for individuals and families.

I hope that more adoption agencies, counselors, and therapists will take note of the role of depression, trauma, and suicide prevention as they relate to adoption.

Depression can be oppressive. It is very real. It is an illness which can affect people no matter their circumstances.

My deep condolences to Gabe Proctor’s friends and family. I cannot imagine their sorrow.




8 thoughts on “Ethiopian Adoptee Gabe Proctor, NCAA Champ, Died By Suicide

  1. We seem to have these deaths reported quite frequently of late .. I am worried how it impacts our struggling adoptees at risk when there are not the right resources (ie mental health services trained in adoption) to support them. At least in Australia we have a free service to refer them to trained in intercountry adoption but this is not the case around the world.

  2. I’m a deported adoptee and depression is a constant struggle more now than it was before. The thought is always there. I hope they found the peace they never found here on this earth.

    • Indeed. We know the suicide attempt rate can be four times as great for adoptees as for non-adoptees (per the American Academy of Pediatrics). We know that adoption can be trauma. And we know that far better services and resources are needed. Please take care of yourself, and keep speaking out.

  3. Did Gabe seek counseling? Was he on any anti-depressants or were such meds forbidden due to his (professional) running restrictions?

    • I don’t know. I would guess he sought and received counseling, since his family was so candid in the obituary about his struggle with depression. Your question about the restrictions regarding medications due to professional running is an interesting one. I don’t know if antidepressants would be forbidden, and I think that’s a really important consideration for athletes.

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