It’s time to do our part

“That they might have joy” column by Jacki Wood

One in four…

It’s a staggering statistic.

One in four of us is affected by mental illness.

That’s 60 million Americans.

That’s someone we all know.

And that’s probably someone who hasn’t let us know they need help.

I was watching CBS News last week about the growing number of deaths by suicide. A new CDC report said suicide rates have increased sharply among middle-aged adults.

Suicide rates among adults between 35 and 64 was 13.7 deaths per 100,000 Americans in 1999. By 2010, it had climbed to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

That’s me, my friends, my family members.

And it’s you, your friends and your family members.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness defines a mental illness as a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. It can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income and are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.

I frequently hear people ask “why” after hearing about a death by suicide. Why? Because they were struggling, feeling alone, beyond hopeless. Probably more hopeless and alone than most of us experience on our darkest of days.

They are dealing with an illness that causes their minds to not function properly like the pancreas doesn’t function properly with diabetes.

And just like diabetes, it is treatable.

But we have to seek help. And we also have to recognize when our friends and family members need help. It’s a burden no one should bear alone. Try and imagine what it would be like to live without help while suffering from an illness like diabetes.

It’s very personal to me. And it should be personal to you, too.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, a good reminder that it’s time…

It’s time to provide support. It’s time to become educated. It’s time to play our part.

We are one of 60 million Americans. And we should not be alone in this fight.

If you need help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1.800.273.8255. For more information, visit nami.org.

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