By Kimmie Semiday
The past months have seen an influx in media coverage centered around mental health. In the U.S., one in five Americans suffer from a variety of mental illnesses, making it an important topic to discuss. It is common to overlook a topic such as mental health because it is an uncomfortable subject to discuss for many people, but that only adds to the problem rather than helping it. Fortunately, people are beginning to break their silence and speak out on the subject.
In February Lokai announced their partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and created the orange Lokai, which was meant to raise awareness and end the stigma around mental health. The bracelet was sold between Feb. 28–March 31 on their website and in various stores across the U.S.
For decades there has been a stigma that revolves around mental illnesses and partly because of the lack of, or misinformation, that is generated by the public. Common myths that surround illnesses such as depression include that people can will themselves to be happy and their problems will disappear. However, telling someone that is depressed to “just be happy” is like telling someone with a broken wrist to “just heal.” It’s not that simple.
Once the limited edition Lokai sold out, the company donated one dollar to NAMI for every bracelet sold. This partnership generated a mass following, giving people a chance and a place to share their stories with their own personal battles with the hashtags #StigmaFree and #LetsTalk. This partnership was so successful that it raised enough money to keep the NAMI crisis line open for another full year. The crisis line is not only preventing suicide but also helping people find in and outpatient facilities and therapy if needed.
Although this isn’t the first time that an organization has partnered with an advocacy group, it can be argued that the support and comradery from others alike was seen in tenfold. However, the NAMI x Lokai partnership has not been the only positive step for advocacy and change.
On Feb. 13 The Board of Directors approved and gave notice to proceed with the construction of the new “suicide deterrent system” in San Francisco, Ca. The system will include a 20 foot net that will extend the length of one side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Construction will begin in 2018 and its expected completion date is 2021.
The main reason why the construction of the suicide deterrent system is so important is because the Golden Gate Bridge is currently the number one place in the world to commit suicide, according to the podcast “The Suicide Paradox.”
Since building the bridge in 1937, over 1,700 individuals have committed suicide via the Golden Gate Bridge with the Aokigahara Forest in Japan coming in second. The net will be made with stainless steel in order to hold weight, but also be able to be barely noticeable to passersby, therefore enabling it to save countless lives.
Being knowledgeable and advocating for a cause you believe in is important, and it is one of the only ways that change can be made. Thus far, 2017 has been a year of conversation and action on the part of mental health and it is only just the beginning.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues please reach out to the NAMI crisis line for more resources at 1-800- 950-NAMI (6264) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800- 273-8255 in a case of emergency