September is Suicide Prevention Month and the first week in October is Mental Illness Awareness Week.

It is important to learn about suicide and mental health. Often someone who attempts or succeeds in taking his or her own life was struggling with depression or another form of mental illness. The hopelessness a person is feeling is too much and seems impossible to escape. We do not understand Mental Illness very well. We often identify it through how a person acts.

What causes mental illness? It can be physical; a person’s brain may be working differently. New medical tests can look at the living brain and show how it is working.  We can study the blood flow, activity, and size of parts of the brain.  This information shows a connection between a brain working differently and mental illness. If a close relative has a mental illness it can make it more likely that another family member will also have a mental illness. Life events can trigger symptoms of mental illness.

The good news is that we can prevent suicide and treat mental illness. Early recognition and treatment is important. Therapy and medication can be helpful. Using both therapy and medication is the most effective.

What are some symptoms of mental illness?  It does not show up with red spots like chicken pox and measles. Talk to your health care provider if you suspect mental illness.

Some symptoms may include:  

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Not able to do daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Having too much energy
  • Feeling numb
  • Not enjoying things you used to enjoy
  • Having aches and pains with no reason
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more often
  • Feeling more upset, worried, or scared
  • Having severe mood swings
  • Feeling sad or crying a lot
  • Having thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others

For more information go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website. NAMI of Barron County offers information and events in Northwestern WI.  Like “NAMI of Barron County” on Facebook for information and upcoming events.

The following NAMI events are coming soon and are free.

NAMI Basics, a class for parents and guardians of children showing symptoms of mental illness. Class begins September 27, 2018 6:00-8:30 and runs for 6 Thursday evenings at Chetek/Weyerhaeuser High School.  Call (715)568-4426 to register

Peer Support Group for individuals living with a mental illness beginning in October every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. It will be at the Larsen Family and Public Library in Webster, WI from 10am-11am.  For more information, call (715) 736-0089.

NAMI of Barron County will be hosting a free, Saturday morning Conference on October 6 from 8:30 to noon, Childhood Trauma:  Resiliency & Intervention. Registration and refreshments at 8:30am. First session starts at 9 am at the WITC Conference Center 1900 College Drive Rice Lake, Wisconsin.  For more information email

Last Update: Sep 26, 2018 11:00 am CDT

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