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I had the perfect life … and then I heard a gunshot

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Catherine Bach thought her life was pretty close to perfect: she’d been happily married for 20 years; she had two lovely daughters, Sophia and Laura; her own jewellery line; and a huge fan following from her days playing Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard TV series.

But everything fell apart the day she walked through her front door, called for her husband, and heard a gunshot.

She started running towards the sound, which appeared to come from the rear of their property, when she suddenly stopped and thought: "Hey, turn around, you have two children, you can't be going in the middle of any kind of violent situation," she tells Huffington Post. "You're responsible for two little girls, what are you doing? You can take your life in your hands now."

It soon became clear that the unthinkable had happened: her beloved partner, entertainment lawyer Peter Lopez, had committed suicide. And nothing would ever be the same again.

Catherine has gone over that morning – April 30, 2010 – countless times in her head, searching for signs that something was wrong.

“I was making breakfast, and I was racing around the kitchen like a crazy woman and he came and stood behind me at the stove, and he said, `Hey, aren't you forgetting something?’ And I said, `No, I think I've got everything in line here.’

 “And he said, `Honey, you're forgetting something.’ And I said, `Oh my gosh, yes I am.’ So I dropped everything and I turned around and I went into his arms and wrapped myself around him and I gave him a big kiss, and we looked at each other in the eyes and I said, `I love you.’

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“I was watching his back as he left, and he kind of shrugged his shoulders and turned half way around.

“And he wanted to say something to me but everything was so hectic so I assume he made the decision not to tell me and he kept walking down the hallway. I think he wanted to say something to me then, [but] we didn't have time to say. The girls went off with him, and when they got out of the car, he said, `Bye, I love you.’ They said, `Bye, Dad,’ and that was it. We never saw him again.”

Catherine will never know why exactly her husband committed suicide.

She wonders if it had something to do with his guilt over Michael Jackson’s death. “He represented Michael Jackson, and you know how crazy that was,” she says. “He's the man responsible for putting the "This Is It" tour together. He brought AEG into the picture which I'm sure now he wishes he didn't. So I think that he felt very responsible for what happened to Michael. And I think that that gave him a lot of grief.”

She’s also read research suggesting child abuse may be a factor in unexplained suicides. “I think he had a great deal of abuse when he was a child that he never really got over,” she adds.

Catherine with Laura and Sophia. 

“My oldest daughter and I read so many books right after my husband died trying to figure out why, why, why would this happen? He didn't take drugs, he rarely drank, we were financially stable so... why?

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Telling her daughters – who were just 11 and 14 at the time - that their father was dead was heartbreaking. The family’s former nanny went to collect them from school and took them to a friend’s house where Catherine was waiting.

“They thought the nanny was crying because maybe something had happened to one of their friends,” she recalls. “I drove their dad's car over to [my friends'] home, so they said, "Oh, good, dad's here. Mom must be here too." When I told them [about] their dad, they... you can imagine what happened.

“We all fell apart. I didn't fall apart [completely]. I didn't have that luxury of falling apart because I had to stay strong.”

Catherine admits she was in a state of shock for about a year afterwards. She couldn’t sleep for weeks at a time, then suddenly the exhaustion would hit her like a ton of bricks.

“I'd forget to breathe. I would gasp for air sometimes.”

What kept her sane was throwing herself into work. The network responsible for Dukes of Hazzard created a role for her on The Young and the Restless and she’s completed three films in the last year. She also attended a grief group.

And while it’s hard for people who are depressed to look at the big picture, she wishes they could understand this: “[They] should realise when they have children and they have a family, you don't belong to yourself anymore. You belong to that family unit, and you're not allowed to do this. You can't do this. You don't have that option anymore. It's just not right.”

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