NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Shortly before former NFL quarterback Steve McNair's mistress killed him and then herself, he recorded a public service announcement that urges young people thinking about suicide to call a hotline and "live to see better days."
The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities shelved the announcement after McNair's July 4 death, and it never aired. The state released three versions of it to The Associated Press this week in response to a public records request.
In them, McNair says, "Each year too many young people are taking their own lives. So if you're feeling really down and have even thought about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK, and live to see better days."
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McNair donated his time to film the announcement in April on a sports field at Goodpasture Christian School in the Nashville suburb of Goodlettsville, where he had held summer youth football camps, then-department spokeswoman Jill Hudson said in July.
Post-production work was under way on 10-, 15-, and 30-second versions when McNair died.
Last year, Tennessee received a $1.5 million federal grant to help prevent suicide among young people. The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 24, and about a third of Tennessee counties have suicide rates that exceed the national average.
Police investigating McNair's death concluded his 20-year-old mistress, Sahel Kazemi, had been "spinning out of control" in the days leading up to the shooting.
She had seen another young woman leaving the condominium where she and McNair were found dead. She was worried about money. She was arrested for DUI. She bought a gun and told a co-worker she was thinking about "ending it."
Family and friends described Kazemi as a sweet young woman who did not have it in her to kill someone and would not have wanted to kill herself.
When her family visited her in Nashville in May to celebrate her birthday, they said she was very happy and planning to move in with McNair. She thought he was in the final stages of a divorce from his wife of 12 years.
But she painted a different picture of the relationship less than two months later when she confided in a customer she met at the restaurant where she worked as a waitress.
Vera Mosley Buckner, of Decatur, Ala., said Kazemi told her she was in love with McNair, but he had recently started acting like he didn't want to spend time with her.
"'I don't know what to do,"' Buckner remembers her saying.