MASON CITY, Iowa – The tragic news of Robin Williams’ death has stirred up the conversation of mental health, and the stigma that surround suicides.
A local organization, “Touched by Suicide”, held its first meeting on Saturday. The idea of the organization is to provide individuals dealing with the loss of a loved one, a place to come and talk with other people going through the same pain.
Half a dozen people showed up to share their stories and talk about their daily struggles. Even though these conversations might be tough, Wendy Balles, the leader of the group says that they’re an important step in moving forward.
“There has always been a myth that if you talk about suicide, you are promoting it,” Balles says, “but, that message is kind of backwards because, if you’re not talking about it, and it still going on, maybe we should talk about it.”
Tonya Obermire was one of people who came to the gathering on Saturday. She spoke about her experiences and struggles, and tells us that it has been a little over seven years since her husband took his own life.
She says that over the years, things have gotten easier, and that even her kids have started to show signs of truly coping with the news. However, when any mention of suicide comes across her radar, she says, “It brings back memories and makes you want to reconnect with others who have experienced that same loss.”
Dealing with mental illnesses is important, and the Touched by Suicide group isn’t the only resource in the area. On the third Thursday of every month people gather at the Evangel United Methodist Church in Rochester to talk on the same topic.
For more information or where you can go to find guidance and help with mental illness, or suicide, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and look for a support group near you.