SIOUX FALLS, SD- “When you’re lighting the candle, you are lighting it for a better quality of life.”
South Dakota currently ranks 13th for the highest death by suicide rate. It’s an improvement from last year, but many say more work can be done to fight back.
“Anything from your A.D.H.D all the way to bipolar, depression, anxiety, suicide,” says Executive Director of N.A.M.I Sioux Falls Sara Lindquist.
In a candlelight vigil at First Lutheran Church, more than 30 people light up the room. Each candle representing a loved one or someone dealing with mental illness. For Sara Lindquist, this event hits close to home. She is part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Sioux Falls because of her son.
“He lives with autism and various different other mental health challenges. I’m sitting here today helping this industry because I had no where to turn. I didn’t know where to go,” says Lindquist.
Sara doesn’t want parents or loved ones to feel lost like she did. She organized this vigil to shed some light on the options people have to help with mental illness. However, this movement has to start with knowing how to communicate to each other about mental health.
Lindquist adds, “Mental health is something not to be afraid of. At all. We need to have a stream-line process in place to make it better and easier for access. That’s what this is all about is making an awareness and making this just like any other industry because easier.”
Beyond Sioux Falls, mental health awareness is also being discussed at the national level. Congress has worked on legislation to raise awareness in mental health training opportunities.
“Sioux Falls has pretty good services for mental health and for those who are struggling. But a lot of parts of our state don’t. You go to the rural areas, you go west river there’s a real need for caretakers. There’s a real need for therapy services, for counseling services,” says U.S Representative Kristi Noem.
This week also kicks off “Mental Illness Awareness Week” in Sioux Falls and in the state of South Dakota. N.A.M.I is hosting its fourth annual “Dancing with the Sioux Falls Stars” on November 3rd. For more information, visit namisiouxfalls.org.