Mental Health Awareness Month seeks to reduce stigma

May is Mental Health Awareness month, established in an effort to help reduce the stigma that is so often still attached to the idea of having a mental illness or emotional problem.

Too many people avoid getting help because they don’t want to be seen as “weak” or because they don’t want to talk about “private matters” to anyone outside the family – or even to anyone at all.

Far, far too many people have died, taking their own lives because they didn’t believe there was anyone or anything that could help to ease their pain.   This year, it is estimated that 30,000 to 50,000 Americans will die by suicide, in addition to hundreds of thousands who will attempt to take their own lives.

Feelings of depression and hopelessness may last for hours, weeks, or months, but never last forever.  Despair is temporary.  But in the middle of the dark night of the soul, it is hard to see or remember the light that will return.

On Saturday, May 3, hundreds of people gathered at Ridley Creek State Park to walk or run 5 kilometers in support of the Delaware County Suicide Prevention and Awareness Task Force.  Among this crowd were many survivors of suicide, reminding us that while suicide may seem to end the sufferer’s pain, for those left behind, the pain may persist for a lifetime.

Like all grief, the hardest edges will eventually fade,  allowing life to go on.  But survivors are left forever wondering why they couldn’t have done more to prevent this terrible loss of life.

There is help.  Even when initial attempts at therapy and/or medication may have failed to help, there are almost always more options that have not yet been tried. There is nothing to be ashamed of.  We all need help at times.  Reach out, for you are not alone.


One thought on “Mental Health Awareness Month seeks to reduce stigma

  1. I previously worked for the Dept of Defense as a Behavioral Health Consultant for TRICARE. It saddened me to see the rate of suicide in the military continue to increase each month. Many measures were taken to combat it, but it seemed to continue to rise. I believe part of those suicides were due the stigma of mental illness and the inability to seek help. Anything we can do to encourage a person to seek help might just save a life.

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