DELPHOS — Nearly a year ago, the Delphos community was reeling with a number of teen suicides. Zach Ricker held an event to open a dialogue with the community about suicide. Ricker told of his battle with depression and anxiety and his attempted suicide. He formed S.H.Y.A.A. or Seek Help You Aren’t Alone to help others who may not know where to turn for mental health help.
Sunday night, he invited Kevin Breel, a mental health activist and TED Talks sensation, to speak at Delphos Jefferson Middle School.
Breel, who is from Canada, told the audience about his struggle with anxiety and thoughts of suicide. It started when a close friend was killed in an automobile accident in Canada.
His message was aimed at bringing to light a problem that’s often swept under the carpet.
“[My message] I think is sort of in line with the theme of tonight, of mental health, and mental health awareness and suicide prevention and this concept of changing the cultural conversation that we’re having around mental health and suicide. Obviously, in North America, it’s a pretty enormous problem and across the world, and I think the S.H.Y.A.A. message is really great about getting help and starting a conversation,” said Breel.
Breel is impressed with what Ricker is trying to do in the community.
“I think it’s wonderful. I think we’re kind of going through a time in our culture where this conversation is getting bigger than ever for a reason, because the problems are bigger than ever, from addiction to suicide to anxiety, depression and all kinds of things. It’s an enormous challenge and I think in our communities is where we have to start those conversations first and foremost. It’s a really positive example of that,” said Breel.
Breel believes talking is just the beginning of trying to solve mental health issues.
“I still think there’s a long way to go. I don’t think that means the problem is solved. I think that events like tonight are kind of like a big catalyst and the conversation getting pushed forward into mainstream, and that’s kind of a conversation that has helped people feel more comfortable getting help, but I don’t think we’re anywhere close to being all of the way there yet because at the root of it, suicide is something that’s preventable. So I think these conversations are growing and they’re happening more and more often, but there’s still a considerable way to go, I would say,” Breel added.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.