By Joel Frieders –
My name is Joel Frieders. I am a husband to one, a father to three, a son to two, a brother to one, and I am a second-term alderman for the United City of Yorkville, the county seat of Kendall County.
July 28, 2017, I lost another friend of mine to suicide and ever since then I have been unable to shake the idea that I should be doing something to help stop these preventable tragedies from happening.
After sitting in my sadness for a bit, I realized the biggest problem related to suicide isn’t lack of resources, it’s that we don’t talk about suicide.
We openly will discuss breasts and breast cancer, erections and erectile dysfunction, colons and colon cancer, both on television and over coffee, but mention suicide or mental health and all of a sudden we’re puritans who tip-toe around words that describe odorous bodily functions while wearing virgin white petticoats.
Why is that?
Why is our body taken care of with annual trips to the doctor, and our teeth cleaned every six months at the dentist, and our eyes and vision checked every so often to make sure we’re seeing all there is to see, but talk to a therapist to make sure we’re comfortable alone in silence and sleeping properly and fully appreciating the amazing life we have in front of us and all of a sudden we won’t go there?
Someone needs to start a conversation. Everyone needs to understand that it’s okay not to be okay. But where to start?
I started by asking Yorkville mayor Gary Golinski, what could I do personally to try and fix all this situation?
He suggested I do “something”, but left the rest up to me. All I really know how to do is talk. All I’ve ever done is talk and write, write and talk. So I wrote a proclamation that declares suicide an important enough topic to discuss publicly, identifies September as “Suicide Prevention Awareness Month,” and gives a nod to the local resources that are available, and states that we are all human and all deserving of understanding that each one of us is valuable. That was it.
Because I am not a professional mental health counselor, I find my strengths in communication afford me the ability to reach out to individuals directly, so that’s what I have been doing at every opportunity since April 24 when I was given official City Council permission to conduct outreach on behalf of Yorkville.
I have been sending E-mail to my fellow elected officials all over the country to ask for their consideration in reading the proclamation at a public meeting some time around the month of September 2018 in support of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
So far, I’ve sent 2,466 E-mail to cities, counties, bouroughs, and townships in 10 states. As of August 2, there are 132 cities and six counties in 10 states participating in simply stating that suicide is an issue, there are resources out there, and lives matter.
I don’t yet know how else to start the conversation on suicide, but I figure if enough cities say it’s an issue, maybe some will listen. And if this doesn’t start working year after year, maybe the shirt I wear that says talk about suicide in bold letters will help start the conversation.
If you are interested in asking your community government to adopt the proclamation, please visit NSPAMP.com and follow the National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Proclamation project page on Facebook.
And if you’re interested in starting the conversation with a simple shirt with talk about suicide written in bold across the chest, visit theyetee.com/products/talk-about and buy one, and simultaneously donate money to local and national organizations that are helping individuals through their rough patches, as well as helping start the conversation to break the stigma surrounding suicide.