Local father tells story of son's suicide

By Audrey Williams

September 10, 2012 Updated Sep 11, 2012 at 10:45 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- "It is devastating, the worst experience I think any parent would have is to have to bury their child," said Mick Threw of Trivoli.

Threw described his son Brady as one who loved life, loved football and mechanics, and enjoyed hanging out with friends. But in 2004, Brady took his own life at the age of 19.

"The first couple months were unbearable," explained Threw. "The first year was tough. Every year it gets a little better. The pain never goes away."

Threw said at the time he didn't notice the warning signs.

"As parents we're not trained in recognition of suicide, and we're not trained in how to diagnose it or prevent it," he said.

Still, Threw believes though education and intervention lives can be saved.

That is the very goal of one group in Peoria. The employees and volunteers at Mental Health America of Illinois Valley are trained to assist people struggling with mental illnesses. One of their biggest missions is suicide prevention through education.

"We're able to get out into the schools, and we're able to talk to kids about life being tougher for some than it is for others," said Ben Etnier, community outreach coordinator at Mental Health America of Illinois Valley.

Death from suicide is only part of the problem, according to the Center for Disease Control, more people survive suicide attempts than actually die. That is where intervention and looking for warning signs can help.

"Withdraw, appetite change, habit change, not playing with friends, mood changes. Don't ever be afraid to ask the question: 'Are you feeling suicidal?'. There is a common misconception that you're going to put that thought in someones head, and that's not true," Etnier said.

Threw hopes with education and awareness another parent won't have to go though what his family is still dealing with today, 8 years later.

"Reach out. Reach out if you're struggling with depression. Reach out. There is help through the Internet, through hot lines. And if you're a parent and you start to recognize and notice some of these signs reach out to your child and reach out to these agencies," Threw said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts you can call the line to Hope at 1-855-837-HOPE.

For more information about volunteering and educational opportunities at Mental Health America of Illinois Valley visit www.mhaiv@mhaiv.org

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