Personal stories put a face on mental illness

One by one, inspiring speakers told their stories to help Stop the Stigma and Start the Conversation about mental illness.

The May 21 event was a fundraiser for 1N5, a new organization whose name reflects a statistic: one in five teens and adults suffers from a mental illness.

The benefit raised more than $80,000 for mental health awareness and education in local high schools and universities.

Local 12 news anchor Jen Dalton, emcee for the event, talked about her own battle with depression and losing her brother to suicide.     

Jasmine Warga shared her struggle with depression, which led her to write “My Heart and Other Black Holes.” The book, which is being made into a feature film by Paramount Pictures, takes a different approach than most suicide-themed youth novels by dealing with suicide before it happens.

Santa Ono, president of the University of Cincinnati, concluded the event with a story of his own. Ono explained how his family immigrated to the United States after his father, a successful mathematician, was invited to be a member of the Institute of Advanced Study.

Growing up with a successful father and brothers, Santa said he felt like the black sheep of the family. He revealed to those in attendance, for the first time publicly, that he tried to take his life twice.

He highlighted the need to expand counseling services at high schools and colleges to help students struggling with mental illnesses and the pressures they face.  

1N5 is an outgrowth of The Warrior Run, founded by Nancy Eigel-Miller after the suicide of her husband. This year’s Warrior Run, whose route winds through the streets of Mariemont, will take place Oct. 1.

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