Words can’t begin to describe the pain of a mother burying her son due to suicide. Unfortunately, some of us witness it firsthand—I did nine years ago. I watched my mother-in-law grieve deeply for a son who took his life after years of suffering from a brain disease—bipolar disorder. Kenny “seemed to be getting better.” Then one day he calmly kissed his wife, walked out to the garage and took his life. Jeanne, his wife, buried him on her 35th birthday.
One in five adults will have direct experience with a mental health challenge with a family member. On any given day, 100 individuals wait in Wake County hospitals for behavioral health crisis services. Each month, 1,000 court ordered in-patient commitments occur, a 111% increase in Wake County since 2014.
When someone we know has a psychotic episode, no one talks about it—there are no “casseroles” to the family members caring for their sick loved ones. Mental health doesn’t look a particular way. The treatment varies as well as the symptoms. Crisis doesn’t happen to “someone else.” It happens to each of us—whether we are prepared or not.
While there may not be a quick or immediate answer to address the complex challenges of mental health in our community, there are solutions and ways to make significant and immediate impact:
- Expand early intervention before sending those with mental health challenges to jail.
- Expand access to adult mental health services.
- Provide early intervention and prevention with case management.
- Expand access and connection to healthcare providers.
- Provide evidence based models of treatment.
According to Dr. Robert Block, former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.” Interventions that address ACEs and toxic stress are at the heart of what we do at Triangle Family Services. Research has shown that the number one indicator of a child’s future success is the stability of their parents or caregiver. ACEs are common and can impact anyone, regardless of race or socio-economic level.
Triangle Family Services (TFS) breaks the cycle of multi-generational trauma by providing wrap-around services for the entire family. Parents are taught how to manage and cope with their own life experiences. Children learn how to cope with their negative experiences so they don’t impact the rest of their lives. TFS works to improve the human condition through a permanent, measurable and life-changing impact and sustainable model.
Together, we can impact and make a difference to the Kenny’s in our lives. But as one advocate whose brother-in-law died due to suicide, I know that we will make a difference only if we create a plan and hold each other accountable.
Triangle Family Services is ready to do that. Please join us in helping to impact this crisis. We need everyone to stay engaged to implement sustainable plans that help our neighbors, family members and co-workers who struggle with mental health challenges. Let’s have a conversation.
– Alice Lutz, CFRE, CEO, Triangle Family Services