Dozens gathered Sunday in Raccoon River Park at an event hosted by the new non-profit Des Moines “No matter what.”
DES MOINES, Iowa – Caution Warning: This article mentions suicide. You can get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
A new Des Moines nonprofit organization is working to break the stigma of mental illness during mental health awareness month.
Caroline Fitzgerald Monson founded No Matter What in March of this year, after she and her family lost their brother, Sean Fitzgerald, to suicide in February.
The nonprofit started with a saying my brother often said, “Whatever happens,” said Fitzgeral Monson. “The thought behind it is that they love you, no matter what. you have done. “
The organization hosted its first 5k “Run for a Purpose” program on Sunday to help raise awareness for those struggling with mental health issues. More than 100 people signed up online and dozens of attendees attended the event held at Racoon River Park in West Des Moines. Supporters listened to live music, testimonials from individuals who have lost family members by suicide, and were able to connect with other people who had friends or family with mental health issues.
“We’re excited for all the people who came out … it’s an emotional day,” Monson said.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in all age groups in the United States and the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened many of the risk factors associated with suicide, including; social isolation, economic instability, and feelings of anxiety.
In a report released by the CDC, a June 2020 survey found that more than 40% of adults reported struggling with their mental health during the pandemic. Often, people are afraid to come forward and seek help.
“We want to change [the stigma], and so that people are not ashamed of it, ”Fitzgerald Monson said.
Fitzgerald Monson’s father, Paul Fitzgerald, helped with the planning of the “Run for a Purpose” 5k program, and the family says they plan to turn it into an annual event.
“If we can help someone, even a person, it’s worth it,” Fitzgerald said.
It doesn’t matter what you will continue to work on this fall through a series of lectures on mental health awareness in collaboration with Des Moines public schools. If you want to give or get more information to the non-profit organization, you can find more information at https://www.nomatterwhatnonprofit.com/.