I met a young man a few years ago, a student at the time, who had started to turn his life around and was enjoying and attending school regularly. On the outside, he was a healthy teenager who just had some trouble engaging at school, I didn’t recognise the pain he was starting to suffer. This young person moved away from our services at Youth Off The Streets and to another city. Gradually he became overwhelmed by an intense internal trauma, he fell into abusing alcohol and committed suicide one night when he was drunk.
I attended this young mans funeral soon after he died and heard the most gut-wrenching story from the father’s partner: the boy had also lost three of his brothers to suicide.
October is mental health month and this year we are asked to share the journey for better mental health and wellbeing. What I want to share with you is one of the reasons I think we should take mental health so seriously.
These days mental health issues are far too common, particularly in young people. Issues of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and many more plague some of our most vulnerable people. Sadly not enough people get help with these issues which often extend from some form of abuse, and those that don’t get help addressing their health often go on to suffer from further disadvantage, a life of crime or spiral downwards into alcohol and other drug abuse.
It can be easy to tell when someone is not physically healthy and it can be easy to miss signs that someone you care about is struggling, but we need to take those extra steps to help our friends, family, colleagues and anyone else in your life.
-Father Chris Riley