September 22 marked the anniversary of my brother Donald’s death. Don was kind, handsome and smart. He loved his three children and was deeply invested in his family. He had one of the most outgoing personalities I have ever known. That’s why it was so hard to understand how someone who was loved so much, full of so much life, would commit suicide.
After Don’s death, we realized his struggle and pain were more common than we knew. I had close friends and business colleagues reach out to me to share stories about a loved one who either committed suicide, or suffered from depression or a mental illness. That’s when it really hit me — most people are ashamed, uncomfortable, and afraid to talk about this epidemic.
We need to remove the stigma associated with mental illness and depression and work towards providing better care for those afflicted. As a legislator, I have worked with my colleagues to launch the “Dutchess County HELPLINE” mobile app, designed to help recognize the warning signs of suicide and provide mental health resources.
We need to fight to make mental health services a priority. As a community, we can all do our part. There are hundreds of families in the Hudson Valley that are struggling to seek help for a loved one. I want them to know they are not alone.
Not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of Don. Suicide is a tragic loss that I hope no family will have to experience. For anyone considering suicide, or anyone who believes they know someone who is contemplating suicide, I urge you to contact the Dutchess County HELPLINE at 485-9700, or the National Suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Both are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Dutchess County Legislator, Hyde Park