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Mental Health

That old barn. The stories it could tell. No idea how many horses took up residence in here or cats, skunks, birds and other critters. Had an old hay bale elevator in the back. The upstairs had old bales around the sides but in the middle was a big space. It was plenty of room for 2 boys 1 girl, 3 cousins to play in, imagination ran wild. But then on July 13, 1986 one of the boys decided that his troubles were insurmountable and took what he thought was the only possible outcome. He ended his life. At the age of 21. Any time of the year for this to happen is a horrible time, but this time of year for the whole family was catastrophic, gut-wrenching. The town where this old barn is located has produced a rodeo for nearly a century. This was one of the times the family got together and all went to the rodeo together. The younger boy was always jealous of the older because he got to go to the rodeo all 4 nights and "help" out their grandfather. The younger boy loved going into town early on Saturday for the rodeo with his grandfather and older cousin. The girl still struggles to this day with the loss of her brother. Her pain is indescribable. The loss is still fresh to the girl and other boy.

Mental health. Not a fun subject to think about, to talk about. It’s taboo in our society, but I think people are more open to talking about it then they used to be. BUT there is still more that needs to be done. How many of you have had medical professionals ask about your mental health, your thoughts, your feelings? How about your spiritual advisor? Your Family? Friends? How do you feel about talking about mental health issues? Not very many, I would guess. Unless you’ve dealt with mental health issues in family, friends or yourself-been on the “front lines”, so to speak, it’s not discussed.

One mental health issue that I have a passion for is suicide. But especially suicide in youth and young adults. According to a 2018 report from the CDC, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. But, BUT for youth 10 years of age, to young adults-age 24, suicide is the 2nd, the 2nd!! Leading cause of death. These numbers are staggering, outrageous in my opinion. I want to know why. WHY are young people taking their lives? It’s bad enough that teens and young adults are killing themselves, but it’s even more alarming that pre-teens even children as young as 8 (and younger, make the conscious decision to end their lives. For each completed suicide, there are several thousand attempts. Surveys of high school students indicate that 17.2% of high schoolers think about suicide each year, and by the end of high school, at least 7.4% of all children have actually made at least one suicide attempt. Although girls are twice as likely to attempt suicide, boys and young men actually account for almost 80% of all suicide related deaths.

Research shows that approximately 90% of people who died by suicide were summering from a mental illness. The most common illness was depression, followed by substance use. Serious life stressors are not the cause of most suicidal thoughts and behaviors. People dealing with a stressful life event may feel intense sadness, loss, anxiety, anger or hopelessness, but experiences of stressful life events don’t trigger recurring thoughts of death, creation of a suicide plan or intent to die. If any of these are present, it suggests a person is suffering from depression or another psychiatric disorder and should seek professional treatment.




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