*If you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.*
Suicide and mental illness affect millions. It doesn’t have a race, an age or a gender; it touches everybody. On Sunday, Sept. 18, Hope College’s Psychology club partnered with the American foundation for suicide prevention (AFSP) in a suicide prevention walk for their Out of Darkness campaign. AFSP identifies as a leading “national not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy.” Their goal is to create a culture that is smart about mental health. At 1 p.m., the walk began in Millennium Park, Grand Rapids. Suicide prevention began with everyday heroes who walked. AFSP informs that suicide impacts one in five of us. As people came together for suicide prevention, it was easy to see how many people are affected by mental health and yet there is still damaging stigma surrounding suicide.
Hope’s Psychology club joined AFSP. Robert Henry (’17), President of the Psychology Club, attended the walk and stated that it went extremely well. Hundreds of people attended, strongly supporting the cause. This event just came to the Psychology Club’s attention this year. It was Hope’s first participation with AFSP. Henry stated, “I think events such as these in addition to the promotion of CAPS (Counseling And Psychological Services) can significantly increase awareness of mental health while also reducing stigma with which it is associated.” The Psychology Club hopes to promote more community mental health awareness activities this semester, bringing awareness to Hope’s campus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States in 2014. It was the second leading cause within the age groups of 10-to-34-years-old. But the public does not talk about suicide (or even more broadly the topic of mental illness) enough to make a change. Anxiety disorders are the most common in the United States according to the National Institute of Mental Health, affecting 40 million U.S. adults over the age of 18. In 2014, around 15.7 million adults age 18 or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year. It is not uncommon for people to have both anxiety and depression. Other common disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and panic attacks and bipolar disorder. However there is not enough attention given to educating the public about mental health. These disorders are often misinterpreted or confused with each other. And because of harmful stigma surrounding mental illness, only a small number of people receive treatment or talk to someone.
To get a better understanding of mental health, do visit themighty.com for honest stories from contributors on their own mental health journeys, struggles and successes.
If you are struggling with mental health, help is available. On mentalhealthamerica.net, mental health screening tools are available as well as explanations of treatment and supports. For serious situations, visit your local urgent care. Learn how to help yourself and others and remember you are not alone.