**Note – I originally published this August 1, 2016 & I feel that it is just important today as it was then with mass shootings now becoming the new normal – yet another mass shooting occurred today at a mall in Jacksonville. Florida.
Today I found out that a fellow schoolmate had lost his battle with depression. While five years younger than myself, I did not know him personally, we both had graduated from the same small rural school. Think Hoosiers but just a tad larger, total school population was around 500 for kindergarten through 12th grades. It was the small town vibe where everyone knew everyone and everyone tried to help everyone. He is the fourth beautiful individual that I can remember in my time on earth to have lost their battle with mental illness.
When will the world realize that mental health matters? More people have some type of mental illness than you may realize and yet governments keep cutting funding. In recent months tragedies have occurred throughout the world from Nice, France to Baton Rouge, Louisiana often with some type of mental illness being blamed. According to CNN Gavin Long, the identified shooter in Baton Rouge, was said to have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. While the article does not say whether or not he had been diagnosed, it seems obvious that something was wrong. While ISIS claims Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was one of theirs and thus claim responsibility for the Bastille Day attack, authorities have yet to find any link between the suspect and the terrorist group. I suspect that both were essentially a suicide by cop. (Wikipedia definition of Suicide by cop is a suicide method in which a suicidal individual deliberately behaves in a threatening manner, with intent to provoke a lethal response from a law enforcement officer.)
Could these tragedies have been prevented. Perhaps we don’t know but just think of the what ifs.
- What if they had gotten help?
- What if they were not afraid to ask for help?
- What if they were not afraid of being labeled by others that do not understand?
- What if they didn’t have to live with that negative stigma society has placed on those with mental illness?
- What if someone just asked if they were ok and was there to listen?
How much longer are we as a human beings going to ignore the importance of mental health. It is time to break the stigma, there is nothing to be ashamed for having a mental illness. I am tired of hearing about beautiful individuals whose lives are cut short due to mental illness. Do not let their deaths be in vain. It may not be possible to bring them back but it is possible to prevent a future tragedy. It’s time to start a conversation about the importance of mental health.
Here are some helpful links.
Suicide Prevention Hotline – http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml
Mental Health Matters – http://mental-health-matters.com/
SAMHSA Behavioral Health Services Locator – https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness – http://www.nami.org/