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February 17, 2019

1/28/2019 10:54:00 AM
End stigma so people can get help

Dear Editor:
In our efforts for suicide prevention, one of the biggest obstacles we face is the stigma surrounding mental illness and treatment. Because mental illnesses occur primarily in the brain, some may be unnoticeable unless the affected individual tells someone or reaches out for help. So a significant part of suicide prevention depends on people feeling brave enough to share some of their darkest thoughts, despite what other people might say or think.
The suicide rate in Wisconsin is higher than the national average, and has risen over 25% since 1999, according to Prevent Suicide Wisconsin. The suicide rate is also four times higher than the homicide rate, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. It is a fact that suicide is a problem in Wisconsin, and it is a fact that people are dying by suicide at increasingly higher rates. So to those who do not believe mental illnesses are real, those who say mental illness is a sign of weakness, those who make fun of people that seek treatment, and those who shame people who come forward as "attention-seeking," I ask that you consider this: if by holding your tongue or making an effort to understand something that you have never experienced you could save a life, why wouldn't you?
By endeavoring to be more understanding and to listen instead of saying things that discourage people from seeking help, we can all help to save lives. If you are looking to learn more about this issue, I encourage you to go to the Iowa-Grant vs. Mineral Point Girl's Basketball game on January 22nd. Iowa-Grant High School will be hosting a suicide awareness night starting at 6 p.m. You can also visit for more information, or to find ways to get involved in saving lives in your community.
Hannah Puralewski

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