Help FCF help local individuals and families struggling with mental illness image

Help FCF help local individuals and families struggling with mental illness

When you know someone who is suffering themselves, caring for someone who is suffering, or who has recently lost someone, there are very specific things you can do to use your voice, your ears and your heart to help. Be a Red Door.

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FCF's Red Door seeks to help local individuals who are struggling with mental illness as well their families and friends caring for them.

See all of the local red doors in Eagle Lake, Columbus, Weimar, Schulenburg, Flatonia, and La Grange, Fayetteville, Rountop, Smithville and Bastrop, Texas - by visiting us on Facebook or Instagram!


The Red Door: The Original Story

My four-year old daughter loves to draw and color. A few weeks ago, she drew a lovely picture with a blue sky, green grass, a tall tree, and… a random red door. She always cherishes her masterpieces and loves to make other people feel loved by giving her treasures away. She decided to give this special piece of artwork to her aunt who she loves dearly. The interesting part about it though was that her aunt whom with she shared the picture, recently lost her husband, my brother, due to suicide. After a particularly hard day, she told me that the picture meant so much to her, especially the red door, which she interpreted as the “doorway to heaven”. That struck me and as I walked away I immediately googled: “what does a red door mean?”

I began to read about the different things that a red door symbolizes depending upon the culture. It is fascinating that it always means something friendly, desirable, and positive. Go ahead, look it up yourself.

In the Bible, the Israelites smeared lambs blood across their front doors to serve as protection from the Angel of Death. In the middle ages, cathedrals were built with doors painted with red crosses; passing through those doors meant you were on holy ground and in a safe place. In America, a very old tradition was to paint your door red to serve as an invitation to travelers who were weary and tired from the road, into your home for a place to rest. During the Civil War, a red door symbolized a safe place to those traveling on the Underground Railroad. The Irish would paint their doors red to keep away evil spirits and ghosts. In Scotland a red door means that that you are mortgage free. In Chinese culture, red symbolizes luck, health, and wellbeing and many Chinese paint their doors red to protect their homes from back luck and evil.

In general, a red door symbolizes an invitation and protection.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. I could have submitted an article that outlined all the statistics around suicide and mental health. In the U.S.:

  • 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 20 adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
  • 10 million adults think about suicide each year
  • 1.2 million plan a method
  • Over 1.3 million people attempt suicide each year
  • 44,000 + people die by suicide annually
  • 123 people die by suicide every day; one person every 13 minutes
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all age groups
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-24
  • Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than females
  • Youth: 100-200 attempts per one death by suicide
  • Older people: 4 attempts per one death by suicide
  • Risk is highest in middle aged adults
  • Farm and ranch families experience higher rates of stress, mental illness, and suicide
  • Recent research suggests that for each death by suicide, 115 people are exposed
  • Among those, 25 experience a major life disruption (loss survivors)
  • There are over 1 million loss survivors each year in the U.S.
  • Suicide risk is greater in survivors (e.g., 4-fold increase in children when a parent dies by suicide)

However, I am not sure that these statistics are helpful to anyone. While it is important to understand that it exists - we certainly don’t want to normalize suicide; nor do we want to reduce people affected by it to numbers.

Instead, I write this to encourage you to be a Red Door.

People suffering from mental illness are tired; especially those thinking about suicide.

Loved ones caring for people suffering from mental illness, are exhausted and feel isolated and scared.

Survivors of suicide victims are lost without their loved one and are experiencing grief in the form of sadness, anger, denial, and fear.

They all need red doors. They all need a place to rest, a place to feel safe and protected, a place to feel welcome and not alone.

When you know someone who is suffering themselves, caring for someone who is suffering, or who has recently lost someone, there are very specific things you can do to use your voice, your ears and your heart to help. Be a Red Door.

When you know someone who is dealing with cancer themselves or within their family, you offer them sympathy and support, don’t you? Why should it be any different with someone dealing with mental illness or suicide? Be a Red Door and stop the stigma in the process.

I’d like to think that Keith, my brother, who lost their battle with mental illness, finally found peace, safety, protection, sleep, and calmness, when they walked through that red door on the other side. And I’d like to think that my daughter was their messenger to let his loved ones know that he and they could finally rest after their long and tough journey.

While my heart breaks, let’s also make sure there are plenty of red doors down here on earth to offer solace to them and everyone around them while they are still traveling on their journey.

Inspired by all of this, we have opened up a fund with the Fayette Community Foundation called: The Red Door Fund for Mental Health. Mental illness is more prevalent in rural areas than in urban communities. At the same time, there are fewer behavioral healthcare providers and other services available in rural areas to help people get treatment and support for their illness. Without these resources, people may continue to experience symptoms that affect their relationships, ability to work, and quality of life. This according to A 2017 Research Recap conducted by the Rural Health Research Gateway report (https://www.ruralhealthresearch.org/assets/658-1990/rural-behavioral-health-recap.pdf). We know this to also be true in our very own rural communities.

Making a donation to The Red Door Fund will mean helping someone local who is suffering with mental illness, helping local families care for their loved ones who are suffering, or helping attract and support mental health providers and resources to our rural area.

If you would like to make a contribution to the Red Door Fund, please visit: www.faycofoundation.com or mail to P.O. Box 664, La Grange, TX 78945.

-Family and Friends of Keith Hudec, son, brother, husband, father.