A couple of weeks ago you published an article (July 27 issue) about the new suicide number #988mentalhealth. I am happy that you are bringing attention to mental health/illness.

It affects more people than we know. It’s a silent killer. As some of you know, my 20-year-old son Michael Rich lost his long battle with mental health/illness last year. Michael fought all his life to stay alive.

But there was a part of the article that kinda made me feel a certain way. You wrote a section in the article about how to call the new number and drew attention to the new way to get in touch with someone for help. The sentence you wrote that I’m writing you about is, “Calling the number will reduce the burden on and the misuse of law enforcement.”

As being a mother to a child who tried to get help his whole life, I was with him every step of the way… every door slammed in my face, every hang up call. He had no insurance so the help out there was slim.

The way it was written, it makes it appear that people reaching out for help is a burden on police and others. NO ONE should ever feel that way. If they reach out to 911 because they are about to take their own life and feel like they have no one else to turn to, let them! People with mental illness should never feel like they are a burden. They need to tell people how they are feeling.

Michael felt that way for many years. He suffered in silence, feeling like no one wanted to hear about his problems. Like no one cared about him or he was a nuisance to people. So people who have mental issues should never feel that way if they are reaching out to call 911. They are asking for help. Listen to them. They all want to be heard.

Mental Illness is real and needs to be talked about. I’m still getting the word out that there is help out there. Even if they call 911, at least they are asking for help and I know that is hard to do.

So I guess Michael’s story is still being told. So let people with mental illness call whoever they need to. It might just save their lives.

Thank you for listening.

-Jeanette Herron

Editor’s note: On July 16, 2022, the newly designated three-digit number, 9-8-8, will route individuals in Missouri to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where compassionate, accessible care and support are available around the clock for anyone experiencing a mental health, suicide, or substance use crisis. The 988 line is confidential and free for all, and available in English or Spanish.