Losing a child is never easy, but losing one to suicide can be especially difficult.
When Deacon Edward R. and Ruth Shoener lost their daughter Katie last week, they decided to take the opportunity to talk about something that has long been considered taboo: her mental illness.
“Kathleen ‘Katie’ Marie Shoener, 29, fought bipolar disorder since 2005, but she finally lost the battle on Wednesday to suicide in Lewis Center, Ohio,” the obituary states.
It then goes on to read like most obituaries, outlining Shoener’s achievements throughout her life and those she left behind. But the Shoeners didn’t want to leave it just at that. Instead they had an extra message for those reading.
“So often people who have a mental illness are known as their illness. People say that ‘she is bipolar’ or ‘he is schizophrenic.’ Over the coming days as you talk to people about this, please do not use that phrase. People who have cancer are not cancer, those with diabetes are not diabetes. Katie was not bipolar – she had an illness called bipolar disorder.”
The obituary then goes on to discuss the common stigma surrounding mental illness and how lack of resources and the pressure of society often contribute to the illness.
“In the case of mental illness there is so much fear, ignorance and hurtful attitudes that the people who suffer from mental illness needlessly suffer further. Our society does not provide the resources that are needed to adequately understand and treat mental illness. In Katie’s case, she had the best medical care available, she always took the cocktail of medicines that she was prescribed and she did her best to be healthy and manage this illness – and yet – that was not enough.”
“Someday a cure will be found, but until then, we need to support and be compassionate to those with mental illness, every bit as much as we support those who suffer from cancer, heart disease or any other illness. Please know that Katie was a sweet, wonderful person that loved life, the people around her.”
What do you think of this story? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting to @YahooStyleCA.
These Iowans want to make mental health awareness a priority
Iowa organizers say this is the first of many events to start the conversation.