Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Support is key for mental health awareness

Years ago my friend Jim and I agreed to meet for a workout.

I didn’t make it there. Slept in or something. And I never saw Jim again, because a couple days later he took his life.

I felt terrible. But there were, of course, undercurrents in his life that few if any of us knew about.

Couldn’t believe it when I saw the obituary in our paper. Oh, no. Not our dear, sweet, kind, smiley, funny, super-intelligent Jim.

He took us canoeing in Glacier National Park, where we worked one summer and had so many good times. 

I had absolutely no chance against that guy in tennis. He barely seemed to move, while I sweated and panted and tried like heck to keep up.

He made us laugh with his wry sense of humor.

And now, suddenly, Jim was gone. 

His family members are still hurting, more than 23 years later.

It’s difficult to talk about suicide. But it’s necessary.

Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide each year, according to Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for those age 15-24, and the second-leading cause for those age 24-35.

On average, one person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes, according to the website. 

Each suicide intimately affects at least six other people.

This is one difficult subject. What to say to someone directly affected? I just can’t imagine what they’re going through.

Support is everything.

It was out in force last weekend during Wyatt’s Sunshine 5K Run/Walk in Kasson. 

At least a couple hundred people ran and walked in memory of Wyatt Coy, a Kasson-Mantorville High School senior who died early this year. They came out to support Wyatt’s family and spread hope to those who suffer from mental health issues.

They laughed, cried and hugged, and released a big bunch of orange balloons in memory of Wyatt. Who, it’s said, was color blind but knew orange when he saw it.

“He was really a ‘people person,’” said his K-M classmate, Ross Mindermann. “He knew what to say to make everyone happy. He was always out there to help everyone, even if it might not help himself. But he would always be there for others.”

“He’d be incredibly grateful that these people came and showed their support for his family,” said Erik Derby, another classmate and longtime friend. “I know that’s what he’d want, people to be there for his family. He’d be grateful to all his friends who were here, running and stuff. I think he’d just be grateful.”

So love wins out, as usual. Also strength, courage, and hope.

If something bad happens to you or your family, this community will be there for you. No questions asked.

How lucky we are to live among such big-hearted people. 

Now let’s tackle the stigma involved with reaching out for mental health care. 

“People feel like they can’t share their story or reach out for help. So we just really want people to know that we’re here and we’re not going to judge you - we’re going to support you,” said Natalie Jech, a psychiatric technician and community relations representative for PrairieCare Medical Group, Rochester, who was on hand Saturday.

We can do this, folks. We are doing it. Holy moley, Veterans Memorial Park was alive with supporters.

Great job. Pat on the back time, folks. You are making a difference.

God bless. Thanks for all you do.

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. Please subscribe here or current subscribers can login here.

Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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