Upstate man credits act of kindness with saving his life

FOX Carolina's Hayley Spitler has the story.
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 10:47 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - “You’re talking about a life changer. I mean literally it was a life changer, it helped saved my life.”

Everyday people wake up and struggle with private battles--never truly knowing what others are going through.

For Brian Smith, it’s been a rough couple of years with immense back pain.

“The pain that I was going through-- I didn’t sleep,” explained Smith, an Upstate father and husband.

In total, having seven back surgeries including four spinal fusions for injuries from a car wreck back in his teens.

“I remember August 6th [of last year.] I mean I will never forget the date,” Smith said. “I sent my wife, she was out of town, this long text just thanking her, telling her that the kids were awesome and I am proud of them, but I told her that I just can’t do it no more.”

Brian planned to take his life.

“Hours later she found me. She was beating on the window [of my car],” Brian remembered. “I think it was like 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning I think is when she found me.”

Then a chance encounter giving him a new outlook.

“When you start realizing where God puts you in these situations and just connects all these dots to be able to put you in the right place,” Brian said.

Dr. Robin Ivey running into Brian and his wife at a grocery store, catching up in the checkout line.

“I get outside the door and God says you need to go back in there and invite them to come to Brothers United for Change,” Ivey mentioned. “I went in and I did and I’ll never forget when Brian came and told me his wife made him come.”

Ivey calling it a divine connection.

“Every meeting-- the first three meetings I cried like a baby,” Smith said. " I would sit in the back and just cry because I would think to myself--why am I being like this? What am I doing?”

Brothers United for Change is a weekly meeting for men sharing their stories and helping each other.

“The camaraderie and the way we interact with each other and having the openness that we can speak to each other as men is so important,” Smith explained. “Men bottle stuff up. We keep it in until it blows up.”

“It elevates everybody in the room to see the potential of what they can do and what differences they can make and how they can make an impact on their families and their kids and that’s what it’s all about,” Dr. Ivey added.

Helping to put life into perspective while also making a difference for others. Organizing food drives, coat drives, and cookouts-- whatever is needed.

“I still have issues. I still have days, but the biggest thing that helps me now is my wife,” Smith said. “If it wasn’t for her and if it wasn’t for Brothers United for Change there is no doubt-- I wouldn’t be able to sit here, talking to you right now.”

Five months later, Brian saying his outlook is different and he wants to help others.

“If you’re thinking those thoughts right now-- first thing, don’t do it. I mean don’t do it,” Smith begged. “Your life is-- there’s people that love you, there’s people that care for you.”

“You never know what a person is going through,” added Dr. Ivey.

Never knowing what a small act of kindness is making in the world around us.

“I never knew what Brian was thinking or going through in his mind, but then when he shared those-- thank you Lord,” said Dr. Ivey.

Brothers United for Change is hosting its second annual conference August 19th. All are invited to attend. For more information, click here.

If you are currently experiencing a hard time and need to talk to someone-- you can always call the suicide prevention line at 9-8-8.