Minnesota Hospital Association


January 23, 2018

Suicide touches families, friends and the entire community

Suicide does more than end one life. It creates a ripple effect throughout a community, as surviving family members and friends experience a range of emotions, including grief, guilt, anger, abandonment, helplessness, denial and shock. It’s estimated that between six and 32 survivors exist for every one suicide.    

Although she never tried to kill herself, Alissa, 16, a sophomore at Brainerd High School, is a suicide survivor. Two years ago, her best friend, who had been battling depression and mental health issues, locked them both in a classroom during the lunch period and attempted suicide in front of her. Alissa was able to call 911 on her cell phone to alert authorities.   

“No one wants to talk about it,” Alissa said, of suicide. “When you are going through what I went through, you feel alone. You are not alone. One in five people in Minnesota have a mental illness. We need to talk about it.”   

Mental illness is just one of many focus areas supported by a grassroots health and wellness movement through community partnerships with Essentia Health and Crow Wing County Community Services called Crow Wing Energized.    

“Mental health has a stigma; it’s not proper for anyone to have a mental illness. But mental illness is no different than having high blood pressure or diabetes,” said Mary Marana, director of the crisis line and Mental Fitness Goal Group volunteer. “We, as a society, need to break that stigma.”   

Breaking that stigma is exactly what Essentia Health’s Crow Wing Energized Mental Fitness Group focuses on when it meets monthly to find ways to build community resilience. Exercises like “Three Good Things” – where a person writes down three positive things at the end of each day for two weeks – and the Gratitude Tree are available.   

“Our hope is that it will help people focus on the positives and build resiliency,” said Nathan Bertram, Crow Wing Energized Mental Fitness Group chair and supervisor for the adult mental health, substance abuse and adult protection teams at Crow Wing County Community Services.   

Visit www.CrowWingEnergized.org to find resiliency-building tools, like Three Good Things and gratitude letters, which can help strengthen mental fitness.