A 22-year-old college student whose disappearance had police scouring Southern California for weeks said she was overwhelmed with personal problems when she decided to walk away.

Sahray Barber, whose March 9 disappearance triggered a huge land and air search across Southern California's Inland Empire, called her father 17 days later to say she was all right.

In a statement she released to the Riverside Press-Enterprise Enterprise (http://bit.ly/1bCfJ2m) on Thursday, Barber said she had lost her job, her car had been wrecked and computer problems were causing her to fall behind in her studies at the Art Institute of California-Inland Empire.

"Things got so bad that I didn't know what to say or who to ask for help," she wrote. "I had dug a hole so deep, that I felt entirely hopeless."

So on March 9, she said, she walked out of her apartment, threw her computer and a few other belongings over a wall and left with just a few dollars in her pocket.

Barber said spent most of the next 17 days in two hospitals, staying under assumed names. After leaving the second hospital, she met a woman she said treated her kindly and finally got her to open up and to reach out to her father, Barber said.

While she had been gone, police launched a huge search involving aircraft, dogs and horseback riders.

Adding urgency to their effort was the fact two women had recently been assaulted on the campus of California State University, San Bernardino, near Barber's home.

Barber indicated that she paid little attention to media reports of the search while she was in the hospital, but was stunned when she found out all it involved. Barber admitted what she did was "incredibly dumb."

"I ask for everyone's forgiveness, most especially my wonderful family for all the worry and long nights I caused you, and all the amazing men, women, dogs and horses that searched for me," she said.