HEY, YOU MATTER | The Sanilac County News sanilaccountypress Hey, You Matter!! CMH Staff Writer: L. Johnson As we continue our Hey, You Matter campaign and its focus on suicide prevention, we want to talk about mental illness, suicide and the stigma attached to it. When a suicide occurs, life changes; you are thrown into a realm you never dreamed or imagined could happen to you. “This can’t be happening,” you think; suicide happens to other people, not people like you. The statistics say otherwise. In the United States more than 42,000 people die by suicide each year. That’s one suicide every 13 minutes. Why is this happening? Why are our loved ones not reaching out for help? Why are we losing them to suicide? Stigma. What is stigma? Webster defines stigma as a mark of shame, of discredit. Let me repeat that. Stigma is defined as a “mark of shame”. Stigma plays a large role in why people don’t ask for help. It’s the large misconception of what Mental Illness is. Many people continue to hold the belief that mental illness doesn’t exist or that people with a mental disorder are weak, or lack willpower, or are just plain lazy. They don’t talk about it thinking they can sweep it under the rug, or make it go away. At one time we didn’t talk about AIDS or Cancer. Did that make them any less real? We’re at the same place in regards to Mental Illness. It’s real, and the repercussions, if not recognized and/or treated, can be severe. Someone dies by suicide every 40 seconds worldwide. Every 40 seconds! In the United States, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15-34, the 3rd leading cause of death for people 10-14, and the CDC shows us that suicide rates are rising each and every year. How can we look at these statistics and say that Mental Illness doesn’t exist? Mental Illness is real and the stigma surrounding it is compounding the illness. So what can you do? How can you change the way mental illness and suicide are viewed and remove the stigma? Break the silence by reaching out and talking to someone struggling. Listen empathetically and show compassion. Reach out to those who have loss by suicide. Say the name of their loved one and focus on the life they lived, not the way they died. Talk about suicide and mental illness, start the conversation. Remember, mental illness is just like any other illness, and it is treatable. Recovery is possible; the person can get better. You can learn the warning signs for suicide. SCCMHA offers free Mental Health First Aid Classes that introduces risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems and a 5 step action plan to help support someone who maybe experiencing a mental health issue or crisis. Call 810-583-0403 for more information. Together we can reduce the shame that is associated with mental illness and suicide. Together we can make a difference. Together we can show folks that they matter by reaching out to those in need. Never forget, whether you’re the one reaching out to someone in distress or you’re the one experiencing a crisis, YOU MATTER!! If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call our 24/7 Access Line at 1-888-225-4447 or the National Suicide Talk Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or you can text 741741 and be connected to a crisis counselor.