We made it! Spring is here with birds singing and flowers blooming and animals playing....and mental illness continues its march across the country and the world, leaving a wake of devastation and confusion. Just yesterday, I was with family in Kerrville and an email came through to my cousin announcing a school mate of hers had committed suicide. His father met the same fate several years before. It is interesting to listen to non-professional folks discuss a suicide. "Such a waste", "he was always a little off" "you know his Dad was wierd too", "guess it does run in the family". Suicide remains a very frequent answer to the question of what's the use? Adolescents and young adults are resorting to suicide in record numbers. The incidence in our military is astounding. Most of the mass shootings we have all witnessed have been about suicide. Yet we are intent upon solving this crisis with a plethora of laws regarding gun ownership. Guns are not the problem. The stigma around health is the issue. The stigma or fear creates an environement where people are ashamed to seek help even when they know they need it. They are afraid if people find out they will be treated like they are "crazy". And they would be right. They are treated differently. There are many ways to kill oneself besides guns. Some of them also put others at risk as well. Death by cop comes to mind. Or all those single car accidents....I know a friend who has had the passing thought every time she is on a long trip to just pull the wheel to the right and see what happens... the only thing that keeps her from doing that at the moment is what she has learning in therapy, the picture of her little girl she keeps taped to her steering wheel and the fact she may take our a bunch of people with her. Spring is a time of renewal, of growth and beauty. Wouldn't it be nice if that growth and renewal could extend to our cultures attitude towards mental health? I followed an anti stigma blog and will be following a new campaign as soon as it is released. My hope, my prayer is through campaigns and blogs and postings we can change the way mental health issues are viewed and make getting help easier than getting help for allergies. The new campaign's website is http://www.1in5minds.org/
I invite you all to go there, check it out and take the pledge to become an advocate. It costs nothing but your time and your commitment to be a voice for those who have none. Won't you join us?