This past week friends from my high school were shocked and saddened by the news that a fellow Warroad High School graduate had committed suicide. While I did not know this person, she was a relative and friend of one of my close friends.
Warroad, like the towns in Sibley County, is a small, close-knit community in which many people are related. A death like this touches everyone.
Ironically, we are just now heading into May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month. Now seems a good time to remind readers that mental illness is not a character flaw, a sign of weakness, nor a sin.
Disorders of the brain—like other physical disorders—are real and can be treated or managed with the help of doctors, nurses, therapists and pharmacists. Depression is perhaps the more widely talked about mental illness and yet is still misunderstood by many. Untreated depression can lead to suicide.
When I was a child, in Sunday school I was taught that suicide was a sin and it could not be forgiven. I don’t know if churches today still teach that. But I do know that saying suicide is a sin is like saying diabetic coma is a sin. It is not a sin. It is the tragic end to an unmanaged disorder.
If you see a friend suffering, don’t tell them to “snap out of it.” Offer to help. Offer to take them to the clinic. Or just take them for a walk.
If you suspect you are suffering from a mental illness, call for help today. You are not alone. You will find a world of support is waiting to help.