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Raising awareness and offering hope to those with mental illness

Horizon Foundation, others host 2nd film festival
Posted at 12:59 AM, Jun 06, 2018

Even though the circumstances surrounding Kate Spade's death is unclear, the news of her passing flooded Twitter and social media Tuesday.  Many tweeted that money does not buy happiness and that mental illness and depression does not discriminate.

28 women die by suicide every day in the U.S.   It was one of the topics featured in a mental health film festival Tuesday in Columbia.

"I lost my dad to suicide when I was 15 years old 29," said suicide prevention specialist, Amanda Ganoe.

Ganoe is not alone.  She works for the Grassroots Intervention Center.  She and The Horizon Foundation organized the second annual mental health film festival to build awareness and compassion for those with mental illness.

"Everybody has mental health but it’s a problem when it becomes a mental illness and it’s not taken care of correctly or supported correctly," Ganoe said.

That's the message the dozens who attended took away with them. The four films featured touched on suicide, teen anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.

"We're here at a theater, just like most folks are when they go to see movies and it’s creative, it’s normalizing, it’s a great way to have a community conversation," said Nikki Vernick, president and CEO of The Horizon Foundation.

But the challenge for mental health advocates is how to normalize something that makes no sense to many; like the sudden suicide of a woman who seemed to have everything; designer Kate Spade.

"Mental health has no boundaries.  It affects people of all races, genders, sexuality," said Vernick.

Spade, known for her handbags, clothing and accessories, got attention in the early 90's and kept her following. 

"When a suicide like this happens in our community, it helps us realize that it can happen to anybody," Ganoe said.

Spade was 55 but suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all age groups.  The message now is prevention and support.

"There’s not one cause to suicide there’s a ton of difference causes that lead up to that person feeling that they can’t go on anymore," said Ganoe.

"There’s hopes, there’s compassion, there’s love and we have lost of resources and services in our community," Vernick said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call the Maryland Suicide Prevention Program at 211 and then press 1.  You can also contact the statewide crisis hotline 1-800-422-0009.

Click here for more information on the services The Horizon Foundation provides.