Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Brooke Gardow met her husband Eric at UW Eau Claire and they fell in love. They were married for 21 years.
“Eric committed suicide almost three years ago, in December, after he was struggling with some depression and some anxiety. And a lot of times when people are going through things like that and he was having difficult times and dealing with it, unfortunately, he chose to take his own life.”
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, and health professionals say there are signs to look for.
“Warning signs vary by person, but typically we see a lot of withdrawing from typical normal activities, things that they used to enjoy they no longer enjoy. Maybe they’re a little bit more irritable, moody.”
Warning signs Brooke thinks Eric was showing.
“There were signs out there that I feel that I probably did miss and that he was showing, looking back. So having that awareness and what to look for people withdrawing.”
Health professionals say suicide is something that can be avoided, and part of stopping it is talking about it.
“Suicide is preventable. And if we’re talking about it, if we are asking the questions, it gives us opportunities to identify those people who are at risk and in need of services and can get them connected where they need it.”
US Senator Tammy Baldwin was one of the legislators who introduced the 9-8-8-suicide and crisis lifeline, where people are immediately connected to local operators.
“People can access it. You know, anonymously. People can text the number rather than call if that’s more comfortable. But people will then get the help they need to work through a crisis.”
And although connecting people to those resources is important, Brooke says it’s not enough and there needs to be more conversations to combat the stigma of mental illness.
“Talking about mental illness, mental health, self-care, making it an everyday thing, having EAP services and mental health services as part of the employees.”
With those resources in place, Brooke says more people might get the help they need.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, there are resources available. You can call the 9-8-8 suicide and crisis lifeline.