olivia Minnesota

Mental Illness Reform

Our mental illness program is not in very good state.

Dear Future President,

The rate of suicide has increased tremendously in the past 30 years. Mental illness is known to be a prerequisite to suicide. Mental illness can occur in many forms, such as: schizophrenia, anxiety, and major depression. The latter of the three is one of the most common prerequisites to suicide. Our mental illness reform is in very ill state. We can do better by recognizing the studies that have been published, understanding the leading causes of suicide and considering the rate of suicide in certain areas. We can also start trying to understand geographically why there is a cluster of them in one place, and listening to survival stories or allowing people suffering from depression or any other state of mental illness to be covered by health care or by insurance, and be more comfortable talking about what they are struggling with.

Our suicide rate has increased by 24% between 1999-2014. As shown, the rates have skyrocketed especially in women. In 2014, 44,273 men, women, and children died of suicide as opposed to 1999 with approximately 29,199. (www.nytimes.com) The rate of suicide in young girls aged 10-14 has tripled between 1999-2014. Researchers also found a large increase in suicide with males of ages 45-64. A 2014 study by the National Vital Statistics System shows that the most common method of suicide in males is firearms. (55.4%) and in females the most common is poisoning of some kind (34.1%). Suffocation is also a favored method of suicide between both sexes. (www.cdc.org) I live in Minnesota, where specifically, suicide rates have increased by 29%; about double the national increase rate. MN will be reforming their death certificates this January, by working with coroners more closely and carefully understanding and displaying the cause of death. They will also be working with multiple agencies to help put together each suicide, and try to get the full picture as to what caused them. Minnesota has become aware that we get seven suicides to every homicide. Suicide is now second in line for most common cause of deaths in Minnesota compared to accidents/car crashes as #1 in Minnesota. (www.startribune.com) These rates are unnecessarily high and some states are working on reforming their suicide structures, but we need more of a push.

A close friend of mine committed suicide back in January of 2016. My friend had been very sad for a very long time. He never seeked out help and this tragedy ended in him committing suicide. My friend was transgender and one of the sweetest people I know; he hung himself in our school gym bathroom in the middle of 6th period.This was such a sad day and will never be forgotten. My story on the other hand is a little different. I struggled with depression for many months. One of my friends told my mom because my depression got so bad. This resulted in my mom finding me a therapist. My therapist was extremely helpful and had a big impact on my feeling of happiness. We then decided I would benefit from being put on medication.They gave me an antidepressant. In about July I realized that I no longer needed my medication or therapy. Since then, I have been a lot happier than I used to be. Chances are people who are sick will not seek out help, but need to be pushed in that direction. Therefore I feel we need better support groups where people don’t feel victimized and feel comfortable. I also believe that the medication for this illness should be covered by the government. If we can’t provide the resources children and adults need, how will anything get fixed?

I feel very strongly about this topic because I myself have experienced this kind of loss more than once and I have also known what it feels like to go through this type of mental illness. The rate has gone up, concluding that the lives of America have gone down. We lose far too many people to mental illness. It is time that we take some action and help these people as we would help any person who is sick. We need to pay more attention and understand that this sickness causes us more loss than 90% of the other causes of death.


Olivia Norpel


St. Paul Central 

St. Paul Central High School

Approaching Analysis - Hours 2 and 3

This is a sophomore honors class at St. Paul Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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