Right now, while you’re reading this, some person in your neighborhood wishes they were dead; some person in your town is thinking of killing themselves; some person in your city is figuring out how to do it; some person in your state is selecting the gun, pills, knife, highway or roof they will use; some person in this country about to use one of those means to do it and someone in this world just did it.

Perhaps the anguish and torment of that person has ended, but it has not yet begun for those around them who have not yet found out about what happened. And when those who care most about that person discover they have killed themselves, a pain will begin for them that they may get past, but they will never completely get over. The fortunate ones will over time have their acute pain lessened turn into a deep sadness, but it won’t ever leave them completely.

The personal anguish of the non-famous mentally ill and their friends and relatives won’t make the sports, business or entertainment sections of your newspaper or make it to a news broadcast.  In our society, these are thoroughly unnewsworthy events.  To make it worse, the sense of hopelessness and powerlessness in people who take their lives is too close to what so many more people barely keep a lid on.  This causes the majority of people to not just overlook and ignore such events, but to shun them.  This adds to the stigma of those with mental illness and even those families that have such a family member.

A famous philosopher (I’d appreciate it if you can find the source) once said: “The measure of a civilization is how it treats those who have hurt it.”  Perhaps a more updated version might read, “The measure of a civiliztion is how it treats those who through physical or mental illness or economic hardship are hurting in it.”

Just how civilized are we?

If any of the above speaks to you, I hope you will join me in supporting NAMI LA (National Association on Mental Illness) as I participate in the 2012 NAMI Walk LA County by either making a donation (the thought is more important than the amount).  Also would love to see you tomorrow Saturday, October 6 at 8 AM at the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade.

Find out more about NAMI which is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope for all of those in need.

From its inception in 1979, NAMI has been dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

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