You might remember singer/songwriter Stephen Cochran from his 2007 song “Friday Night Fireside.” The song’s video spent five weeks at No. 1 on GAC’s Top 20 Country Countdown. Stephen’s been out of the spotlight for a while, but now he’s back with a new single and video, “Pieces” — and it’s a true story.
A former Marine and Iraq veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he tells NBC News that everything shown in the video — from the drinking and pushing loved ones away to the gun on his bed — happened to him last year. The only thing different in the video from Stephen’s real life is the type of gun. In real life, he had a shotgun propped by his bed. The actor portraying Stephen in “Pieces” is also a former marine who suffers from PTSD.
“I was just trying to get the nerve,” Stephen said of his decision to end his life. “I had it planned out. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was tired of taking all these pills. I was going through a breakup. Couldn’t write anymore. Watching everything fall apart. I was ready to check out.”
Stephen was saved in part by his dog, Semper Fi, who scratched at his door until she bloodied her paws. Stephen’s ex-fiancée just happened to stop by the house to pick up something she’d left behind and followed the anxious dog to his bedroom. She had to physically restrain Stephen to stop him.
In the middle of thoughts of Afghanistan firefights, friends lost in combat and his own near-fatal injury (after which he was told he’d never walk again), Stephen kept thinking of a question and wrote it down: ‘How do you paint a picture back in focus?’ “It was the only way I could describe trying to put your life back together, literally trying to do the impossible,” he said.
Stephen wrote “Pieces” with that thought in mind. The song is about the darkness of PTSD and of putting all the pieces of his world back together. Part of an album by the same name, it will be released in the U.S. on November 11 and has already charted in Europe.
“It’s not just my story,” he said. “So many of us think about (suicide) because you just get so tired, so tired of being the crazy guy. Or of hearing: ‘He’s weird.’ Or of hearing: ‘We can’t hire you because we really don’t know what post-traumatic stress is and you might come back and kill us all.’ I really wrote it as my own healing, for what I was going through.”
Stephen has played it at several veterans’ benefits and has heard from service members up and down the chains of command about how the song has affected them. The song is now a part of Stephen’s personal mission to help others who may be going through a situation similar to his.
“We have an epidemic of suicides in the military right now,” he said. “At this point, we are physically losing both of these wars in the United States of America, not overseas.”
Watch Stephen’s powerful “Pieces” video:
Stephen’s one of many country artists who have served in our military. Click HERE to read about the military experiences of artists including Stephen, plus Craig Morgan, Josh Gracin, Keni Thomas and more.