Our View: Tackling the taboo
February 10, 2010
Mental illness often is a subject that's difficult to address, especially in a community such as ours, where the spirit of independence and a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps mentality exists so prominently.
And yet, there this quiet killer is, year after year, thrust to the forefront of the public consciousness when tragedy unfolds and a life ends because someone sadly succumbs to these issues without getting much-needed help.
A forum Thursday night at The Memorial Hospital in Craig, which was designed to address issues such as suicide, grief and depression, was a step in the right direction toward educating the public and raising awareness about these very real, community-deflating issues, the Editorial Board contends.
About 50 local residents, several of which had personal ties to the issues being discussed, attended the forum hosted by two psychologists and two survivors.
The community should be commended for attending the forum, learning more about the subjects and attempting to tackle these tough issues.
Moffat County's numbers for suicides and attempted suicides are extremely high — three suicides have been reported so far this year — and the problem doesn't end there.
There's no telling how many people in the community quietly suffer day after day from forms of grief and depression without making the brave leap to get help.
Given this, our progress and forward momentum on mental health issues can't start and stop with Thursday's forum. More needs to be done, and it's reassuring that the local group, Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, has recognized as much.
There are a couple of other key points the Editorial Board would like to make in this opinion piece, messages meant for those suffering from mental health issues.
Namely, you do not have to struggle through these problems alone. There is information and help available to you that can perhaps guide you to a way of life devoid of such struggles.
Also, you should disregard any negative stigma you feel is attached to mental health issues.
As Thursday's forum suggested, many health professionals no longer consider suicide to be a purely mental problem.
Speakers Thursday agreed that biological seeds, physical pain and environmental issues also factor into mental illness.
In that regard, getting the treatment you need is no different than being seen by a doctor for a physical malady.
You wouldn't let chronic back pain, a heart condition or high blood pressure go unchecked and untreated, right?
So, what's the difference between seeking help for a physical problem and a mental health one?
To this Editorial Board, and we're willing to bet to many in the community, nothing.
Nothing at all.