The link between suicide and depressionUntreated depression can lead to suicide. In the past two-and-a-half years, there have been three suicide deaths in Red Wing that school officials say they’re aware of.
By: Amber Mensen, The Republican Eagle
Untreated depression can lead to suicide. In the past two-and-a-half years, there have been three suicide deaths in Red Wing that school officials say they’re aware of.
That’s why groups are organizing to spread awareness and combat the stigma associated with depression.
“The point is to really put it out there as depression is a serious illness,” said Tanya Holub, school psychologist for the Red Wing School District.
“If you don’t get treatment, you could die,” added Lisa Hanson, Red Wing High School health teacher.
Hanson, Holub and others in the school district say the school system has a crisis plan in place to deal with events like suicide.
“Part of the grief process is having creative ways of coping,” Holub said, explaining how students have done so by writing on large sheets of paper, making t-shirts or designing things in shop class.
With additional support from the mental health community and clergy, the school often turns into a hub when such events occur, Holub said.
During one such incident, kids felt they needed to leave school but ended up going back “because they knew this is where they needed to be,” Holub said.
While the district already has a support system in place and staff are told the warning signs for depression and suicide, Pam Horlitz from Fairview Red Wing Community Health Outreach said it’s important for the greater community to also be aware of those signs.
Hanson said suicide is more often seen in young adults. That demographic includes young adults who are just entering the workforce, Horlitz said.
Horlitz pointed out that while large businesses often have access to mental health support for employees, small businesses may not. That means it’s important for employers and co-workers to be able to see such signs in others at their workplace.
Horlitz added that there is talk of making a handout and asking the Red Wing Chamber of Commerce to distribute it to its members.
“There’s a community group that collaborates to increase awareness of depression and mental health issues,” Horlitz said. “It started as the Yellow Ribbon Committee.”
Eventually the Goetz Family Fund became involved, financially supporting efforts to raise awareness of depression and suicide.
In January, Hanson and Holub attended Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP) school-based instructor training at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., paid for by the Goetz Family Fund.
Information learned from the training is now being incorporated within the school district and is a part of all high school health classes, Hanson said.
Holub and Hanson say that talking more about depression will help erase the stigma associated with the illness.
“We need to take the stigma off depression and put it on suicide, because that’s not an OK option,” Holub said.
According to John O’Connell, a medical doctor who presented at the ADAP event, most suicide is a combination of repeated suicidal ideations coupled with an impulsive act, Holub said.
Further information provided by O’Connell states that depression is believed to be one of the most under-recognized and under-diagnosed diseases in the United States healthcare system.
“Depression is a cluster of signs and symptoms which can include sadness and which are intense, pervasive, sustained and disrupt daily routine over a long period of time,” O’Connell wrote.
An event for adults is tentatively set for May 12. Holub, Hanson and a local clinician — a psychologist — will present a parenting class that focuses on depression awareness and what to do.
Full details will be released at a later date.