Event raises awareness on mental health, suicide

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Several dozen people spent the day learning about suicide and mental illness at an education event at the New Life United Methodist Church

There was a presentation to show kids how to administer mental health first aid. Speakers shared stories about living with mental illness and finding recovery.

Organizers say it's important to open up the conversation to young people even though it's a difficult topic.

"The number one thing that people need to know is that this can happen to anybody at any time and that nobody is. There's nobody that this can't happen to or affect, and it's affecting people that you see walking around that are highly successful that have smiles on their faces - they're struggling with suicidal thoughts," said Tommy Corral Memorial Foundation founder Xavier Whitford.

Whitford says that making young people have discussions about mental illness is crucial to ending the stigma around it.