On Centre | Around Bellefonte: Documentary to help raise awareness about suicide

The symptoms of mental illness aren’t as readily noticed as other dangerous diseases.

There are no atrophying muscles, no coughing of blood and no scars. Such a silent condition can often go unnoticed or unappreciated, making education all the more necessary.

In the spirit of informing the public of mental illness and suicide, the central Pennsylvania chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, with the Lycoming-Clinton Joinder Board, will present the documentary “ Here One Day” for a free public viewing and question-and-answer session with producer/director Kathy Leichter at the Bellefonte Area Middle School auditorium.

“The AFSP and The Meadows work to bring educational programs to the region to promote suicide prevention and stamp out stigma,” Meadows Psychiatric Hospital spokeswoman Brenda Fry said. “Since our Out of the Darkness walk is being held on Sunday, we felt this was a way to expand the public’s awareness of mental illness and suicide.”

“Here One Day” tells Leichter’s story of moving back into her childhood home after her mother committed suicide. Here, she discovered a box of audiotapes recorded by her mother detailing the aspects of her life, including her struggle with bipolar disorder.

“I wanted mental illness to feel more real,” Leichter said in a news release, “as if it could happen to any of us. I wanted suicide to feel less a sensationalized drama, for it, too, happens to so many, from all ethnicities and backgrounds.”

A person dies by suicide every 13.3 minutes, claiming more than 39,500 lives each year, according to AFSP. A suicide attempt is made almost every minute.

The film is being brought to the community thanks to the Out of the Darkness walk, slated for Sunday in Sidney Friedman Park in State College. Half the funds raised are kept locally to hold events and half goes to the AFSP to fund research, Fry said.

“There is little funding for this as compared to cancer or diabetes,” she said.