Letter to the Editor

Mental Health Week

Sunday, October 6, 2019

In case you missed it, Oct. 6-12 is Mental Health Week. Thursday, the 10th, is World Mental Health Day. The focus this year is suicide prevention, and a very worthwhile focus it is. Every year, worldwide, nearly 800,000 people take their own lives. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds. Consider this: The three most prevalent ways of death involve ingesting pesticides, hanging and firearms in that order.

So much for statistics. What they teach us is that many of our fellow humans feel incapable of dealing with the stresses of living (moments of sudden crisis, financial problems, the breakup of a relationship, chronic pain/illness, feeling isolated and alone, and so on). That last one offers an opportunity for most of us to get involved and be proactive. Allow me to explain.

A betting person would tell you that the quality of one's relationships be they among school age children or seasoned adults holds the key to much of what we term "good mental health." We can see that clearly in the life stories of many of the mass shooters in recent years. For the most part, they were/are not homecoming king or queen material. They often standout due to their dissonance with the majority. Their preferences, use of leisure time, attitude toward authority and a whole host of other red flags set them apart from their peers. They don't necessarily relish companionship/camaraderie.

Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that they have little experience with supportive, fulfilling, caring peers or authority figures. In other words, they stand out, but not for the right reasons.

The takeaway from the above is that it behooves all of us to get more involved, reach out, interact in a positive fashion. Every day, we see folks who appear to be having less than a stellar existence. Offer a kind word, some encouragement, show an interest, invite them to share a walk or a meal.

Anything would be better than to just go on your merry way and write them off as not worthy of your time or attention. It may not seem like much at the time, but none of us know how far a small act of kindness can go when the recipient is struggling with life and death issues. Take a chance. It just might save a life!

Bill Kersting, Spencer