Tuesday, 27 March 2012
If a person breaks their arm, the public can see a cast. But, if a person suffers from mental illness, the public has nothing physical to view. It is this lack of visible suffering that I believe is a chief cause for the profound stigma against mental illness.
I am supporting Strides Against Stigma in honor of my brother, Brian. Brian suffered from depression starting in his early teens. He attempted suicide at the age of 15 and was successful at the age of 20.
Brian was a 20 year-old Junior at UCLA who loved our mom’s lemon chicken, traveled the world, and wrote beautiful poetry (Allforme, by Brian Sheridan, Deck Press, 2007).
While I watched our immediate family try to fight this stigma during his life, I also observed how it affected our family after his death. As a suicide survivor I have had colleagues, family, and friends, be both supportive as well as unintentionally hurtful. To put it simply, people do not know what to do or say when addressing mental illness. To be honest, I did not either. But, I can only advocate that people practice compassion and try to understand that mental illness, although not visible, is still an illness. We must continue to educate and respect those people who are affected by it.
Please support this important initiative, and register as a strider by visiting www.StridesAgainstStigma.org.