CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Millions are affected by mental illness each year, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 14-year-olds.
There are many nonprofits trying to change those numbers and break the stigma. Champaign’s local NAMI affiliate has been aiming to do that for the past 40 years.
“Especially among young people, the suicide rate has gone up tremendously,” said Diane Zell, NAMI’s immediate past president, said.
She wants to make sure more people don’t become part of the statistics. She said anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder all increase the likelihood of suicidal ideation. To do that, her group provides education classes, programs and support to anyone who needs it.
NAMI Champaign hosts many annual events to help break the stigma and start the conversation.
“When we’re talking about suicide that’s especially important because many times people who have feelings that they might take their own lives, they need somebody to reach out and connect with them,” Zell said.
Zell helps with the NAMI chapter on the University of Illinois campus. She knows the importance of reaching out and talking to someone is especially important for the younger generation.
“They are willing to talk about mental health conditions and what can be done and to help one another,” Zell said.
All it takes is one step to start.
“One thing we can do is we can actually ask someone, ‘do you have a plan to harm yourself?'” Zell explained. “If you know that if someone has a plan, then you know you can do something about it.”
Coming up on Oct. 7, NAMI is hosting an awareness and fundraising walk in Champaign at Hessel Park from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. This year, the group is dedicating the “Strides Against Stigma” walk to Sue Keller. She was a long-term volunteer and board member. More details can be found online.
988 is the national suicide and crisis lifeline available 24/7.