As California’s Secretary of State, my official duties and responsibilities may not include mental health policy or suicide prevention, but that’s precisely why I’m reaching out to you on Suicide Prevention Day.
To prioritize the search for better treatments for mental health conditions, de-stigmatize seeking treatment, and reduce the number of people lost to suicide in our country, we need everyone to be better informed and engaged.
My personal awareness and better understanding about mental health issues began when I met my wife Angela, whose single mother was diagnosed with bipolar 1 with schizoaffective disorder many years ago. On our first date, Angela shared with me that she was only three when she first witnessed one of her mom’s episodes. So Angela grew up as daughter, caretaker, and advocate to her mom. And because her mom’s illness wasn’t visible, most people had a hard time understanding. That’s not surprising.
As a society, we don’t talk enough or openly enough about conditions like depression, addiction, anxiety, or trauma, let alone acknowledging thoughts about suicide. We must change that.
It’s time to normalize open, honest conversations about suicide so those in need of help can come forward and find it; and those who can provide help to someone experiencing a crisis get the tools and skills they need to do so.
Today, I’m asking you to start doing your part by programming the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline into your cell phone: 800-273-8255. By doing so, should you or someone you know ever need assistance in a crisis situation, help is only a click away.
When we got married, Angela and I promised each other to invest some of our time and modest resources to improve mental health in our community. Raising awareness and helping save lives starts with honest, open conversations. Please join us in talking about and sharing this information with your loved ones.
Thank you, as always, for your support,
California Secretary of State