Shedding stigma of mental illness

Posted at 10:27 PM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 23:29:30-04

A mural in downtown Tulsa is meant to draw attention to the number of people who die daily by suicide.

Experts say it's about 123 people, comparable to a small passenger jet crashing, every single day in the United States.

One of our own here at 2 Works for You knows all too well about losing a loved one to suicide.

She was 30 years old. A daughter. A fierce friend, a volunteer and a registered nurse who was really good at taking care of and helping others.

Christin Haverfield was also the older sister of 2 Works for You Meteorologist, Jon Haverfield.
"The night before she was just texting me like normal and I asked her, 'when's the next time we're going to see each other and she just said, 'I don't know,"  Jon said.

It was the last time the brother and sister would ever talk.

"I woke up the next morning to a phone call that she had taken her own life. So it was definitely the saddest day of my life"

That was 3 years ago but it doesn't matter. For Jon and his parents, it might as well been yesterday.

They say the guilt and pain of losing a loved one to suicide never go away.

"We miss her every day and it's the pain that never leaves you," Jon said. "It will never be the same. "She was just so caring and put other people first. She was just an incredible person"

Christin was also very good at hiding her severe depression.

She'd had a lifetime of practice.         

Jon and his family knew Christin struggled every day with the dark cloud of mental illness that hung over her.

"Just had unbelievable strength just to get up in the morning just dealing with something like that something that people who don't have mental illness will never understand," Jon said.

Jon wants to change why it's hard to not understanding.

He volunteers with Mental Health Associaton of Oklahoma, telling Christin's story, and how he and his family have tried to move forward.

They want the stigma surrounding mental illness to stop.

"Mental illness is just like any other disease, any kind of disease your born with," Jon said. "She didn't want this. This wasn't brought on by something. This was just something she was born with".

Mental Health Associaton of Oklahoma is using new training to reduce suicides.

It's called QPR, and stands for Question, Persuade and Refer.

Just like people trained in CPR help save lives each year, people trained in QPR are taught to recognize the warning signs of suicide and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help.

"I hope that QPR in the future that QPR is taught in every business, every university, every place of worship everywhere," Jon said.

Jon is working on getting his pilot's license.

He recently completed his first solo flight.

Sometimes he feels closer to Christin up here and is thankful for his opportunity to work with Mental Health Associaton of Oklahoma in helping other families.

"Just me getting involved with the organization has brought comfort to me knowing that there are people out there in my home state of Oklahoma by devoting their lives to getting the message out," Jon said.

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