Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Facebook | Twitter | Home RSS

We’re going to get into your head

May 2, 2016
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

May is Mental Health Month. On Thursday's Opinion page, Sen. Harkin set out a number of ways Congress has tried to help make mental health care better. He pointed out that every American is affected by mental illness in some way, whether they have an illness, or have a family member, friend, coworker, community leader, or other person with whom they're connected.

When we looked for a hot topic on mental health, the one that grabbed our attention was the data showing that Iowa's suicide rate is at its highest rate in 20 years.

This is despite the strides made in understanding depression and other mental illnesses. This is despite better medication regimens and therapies to treat mental illness. This is despite progress made in reducing the stigma of getting help for mental illness. This is despite an increase in suicide awareness, suicide hotlines, and more openness in obituaries and other public statements when a loved one dies by his or her own hand.

Whatever our professionals and advocates have done, it hasn't worked the way we want it to work. We'll talk to the mental health providers and the hospital to find out what they're doing. We'll address the community health needs assessment from 2012, which stated mental health was not a priority need for our community to address, due to the press of other priorities and the stated lack of professional and financial resources.?It will be anchored in the print version of this paper, but could expand to Facebook, Twitter, and, for those telling their stories, to a "Humans of New York"-type feature with photos and the short version of their stories, with more details in the paper and online.

We'll dispel the myths of suicide, look at the parts of the brain that drive depression, and even talk about the possibility of life becoming a less liveable experience, as we become less connected, have fewer close relationships, and look beyond the statistics. We'll employe solutions journalism, not setting out the illusions that we have the answers, but finding place and people that have found something that works.

Suicide is increasing not just in Iowa but all over, and our newsroom was recently touched by it in the death of a coworker's family member.

Unlike doctors, nurses, EMTs, law enforcement officers, firefighters and others who physically dive into life risk situations, journalists don't have many opportunities to save lives.

I feel like our news organization can play a considerable role in being a catalyst for getting people to talk about it, for getting people to understand it, and then putting them into a position where they might use this information to do something about it.

In full disclosure, as you know if you read this space with any frequency, I?have had four parents:?two adoptive, who raised me, who were mom and dad, and two birth parents, one of whom I've spent time with and one I never got to meet because he took his life at age 40 before I found out who he was. It rocked that family and still affects my amazing brother, and lovely aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandfather, whom I'm just getting to know. We're all touched by mental illness, by suicide, and these stories will be about all of us.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web