Midweek Motivator: Talking about mental health and suicide
Kick off Mental Health Awareness Month by attending a Kevin Hines presentation.
According to the World Health Organization, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites suicide as the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults, ages 10-24. One in five adults in the United States experience a mental health illness.
These facts, combined with a rise in suicide interventions at local schools and demand for more mental health services at area medical organizations, have prompted Smiles for Jake to invite a nationally recognized speaker to provide inspiration and information to local youth and adults.
Kevin Hines will be visiting the Brainerd lakes area and making several “Be Here Tomorrow” presentations from May 1-4. Kevin is a storyteller, best-selling author, global public speaker and award-winning filmmaker. In 2000 he attempted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. During these presentations, Kevin will share his story of hope, healing and recovery while teaching people of all ages the art of wellness and the ability to survive pain with true resilience.
Besides presentations at area middle and high schools, there will also be three sessions that are open to the public:
- 8 a.m. May 2 for business/nonprofit leaders at Gather on 3 Event Center, Merrifield.
- 5:30 p.m. May 2 for the general public at Gather on 3 Event Center, Merrifield.
- 5:30 p.m. May 3 for the general public at the Chalberg Theatre, Central Lakes College campus, Brainerd.
There is no cost to attend any of the three sessions, but RSVP would be appreciated. For more details and to reserve a seat visit: www.smilesforjake.org/kevin .
The Lakes Area Human Resources Association is also hosting a presentation at noon May 2 for human resources and other business professionals. To RSVP for that session, visit the LAHRA website at www.lahra.org .
Local medical professionals will be available during and after the presentations. Printed and digital resources will be provided to encourage discussions about mental health, suicide, and how it’s affecting our local community. The program is supported by a grant from Sourcewell and represents a collaboration between Smiles for Jake, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, and Wings of Hope.
The importance of talking about mental health and suicide is becoming more and more critical and the myths surrounding those conversations need to be discredited. A letter from Dr. April C. Foreman, executive board member of the American Association of Suicidology further reinforces this notion: “You cannot plant the idea of suicide into someone's mind if they are not already considering it, just by talking about suicide. In fact, for youth who are not experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is valuable to learn how to understand suicidal feelings, and how to reach out to others non-judgmentally.”
Signs that you should seek help for yourself, or a friend include:
- Feeling sad or down for long periods of time and/or unknown reasons;
- Extreme mood changes;
- Withdrawal from friends or activities;
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate; and
- Excessive fear or worries.
If you ever feel like you or a friend/family member are in immediate danger, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by calling or texting 988.
The month of May is known as Mental Health Awareness Month. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to share resources to raise awareness about mental health and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. Additional resources for support and information include:
- Crisis Line & Referral Services: 218-828-4357
- National Alliance on Mental Health: www.nami.org
- Make It Okay: www.makeitok.org
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org