With the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams still fresh in the minds of many Hoosiers, mental-health advocates want to keep the conversation and awareness going, as the state and nation recognize Suicide Prevention Week this week. Lisa Brattain, the Indiana and Ohio Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says the stigma of mental illness keeps many from seeking treatment.
"Stigma exists where the absence of knowledge lives," Brattain says. "For some people it's hard to understand this is an illness because you physically can't measure or gauge, like you can a blood test."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 40,000 reported suicides each year; nationally and suicides rates have been on an upward trend since 1999. This fall, there are a series of walks scheduled across the state. "Out of the Darkness" is designed to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention.
The next event is Saturday, Sept. 13, at White River State Park in Indianapolis.
There are an estimated 23.9-million Americans coping with some form of depression. Brattain stresses, suicide is preventable and more work is needed to recognize and treat depression, and remove the stigma from mental illness.
"Research has to be happening in detection and treatment options," says Brattain. "We know from other illnesses that if research isn't happening we never see improvements. We never see lives being saved."
Brattain encourages anyone who has had thoughts of taking their own life or knows someone who has, to call the association's 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.