Kathy Harkey lost her son Joshua to suicide more than 7 years ago. She and her family will never be the same again.
"It changes us completely," Harkey says. "We don't see the world through rose colored glasses anymore. When you lose someone you love to suicide, your eyes are wide open."
Harkey's grief propelled her to the Richmond chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, called NAMI for short.
Many members have dealt with suicide. Harkey says it's a sad reality.
In 2011 alone, there were 1,067 suicides in Virginia compared that to 775 in 2000.
The report says older, white men are the most likely to kill themselves.
Virginians are three times more likely to die from suicide than homicide.
"There are many, many factors that are the cause for the increase in suicide rates," says Harkey.
Harkey says military members with post-traumatic stress disorder are taking their lives. Other people lose their jobs or have relationship troubles, get depressed and see no other way out.
90 percent of those who die by suicide have a treatable mental illness. So Harkey's made it her mission to fight for Virginia laws to better help this population and to let the public know resources are available.
"Now I work for NAMI to help others so they don't suffer the fate of my son or myself or my family."
NAMI offers several different programs for those with mental illnesses and their loved ones. Go to the group's website at namicentralvirginia.org.
301 Arboretum Place, Richmond
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