Confronting mental illness

I was pleased to see the Family Counselor column, “Confronting Suicide,” in the August 2008 Lutheran Witness. Thank you for covering so sensitive an issue.

As one who suffers from severe major clinical depression with suicide ideation, I applaud the answer that Theresa Shaltanis gives. Families suffer along with their loved ones who have a mental illness.

Many who commit suicide don’t want to die as much as they want to stop the psychic pain in which they find themselves. The resources given are excellent. You might also include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an organization that educates about these diseases and advocates for those suffering with them. They also have a link on the Internet called “Faithnet,” which has worship resources available dealing with mental illness. Our Synod also has produced a mental-illness resource entitled “You Are Not Alone.” Since the incidence of mental illness is 20 percent of the population, every fifth person in the pew statistically has a mental illness, whether diagnosed or not. It behooves the Church to deal with the issues and reality of this all-too-common illness that affects Christians and non-Christians alike.

October is Mental Illness Awareness Month during which a special effort is made by NAMI and similar organizations to draw attention to the seriousness of this problem.

Jan Lutz
Stevens Point, Wis.


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