‘People are dying:’ Woman who lost brothers to suicide tells students in Menomonee Falls it’s OK to talk about mental health

Mettie Spiess

MENOMONEE FALLS -- She lost both of her brothers to suicide, and you might think she doesn't want to talk about it, but she does. She wants people to hear her message before it's too late, and she spoke to students at Menomonee Falls High School on Monday, Jan. 29.

Mettie Spiess, from Wisconsin, had to learn how to cope with anxiety and depression at a young age, but instead of letting it define her, Spiess has made it her life's mission to teach teenagers that it's OK to talk about mental health and suicide.

"People are dying. We're losing lives...especially students. To crush that stigma, to get people to open up and come out of that silence is huge in order to save not only our youth but our adults as well," Spiess said.

Spiess is no stranger to tough topics.

Mettie Spiess

"My first brother died by suicide when I was 10," Spiess said.

At 24, her second brother also took his life.

"I think it's important when you do have a pain or a loss or a setback to turn that into purpose," Spiess said.

In 2014, Spiess founded "A World Without Suicide." She travels the country, sharing her story.

"Mental health and suicide is OK to talk about. It doesn't give someone the idea. It actually saves someone's life," Spiess said.

On Monday, every student at Menomonee Falls High School learned safe steps to take if a friend talks about hurting themselves.

Mettie Spiess speaks to students at Menomonee Falls High School

Mettie Spiess

"Our goal in bringing Mettie here was to empower our students, and letting them know they have a voice," Stacy Schuster, Menomonee Falls High School counselor said.

"Not only will it help people who are maybe too afraid to get the conversation started, but also those students that don't know how to help somebody," Jackie Plantier, student school board member said.

Spiess encourages all students to tell an adult if a friend wants to take their own life.

"It kind of broke down some barriers and I think it will kind of lead to change," Plantier said.

Spiess said she hopes this inspires teenagers to break their silence and find someone they trust to turn to when feeling alone.

"You're never alone. There's always people that care. If your heart is beating, you are alive for a reason and there's people that do care and will tell you that," Spiess said.

Mettie Spiess

Spiess said she hopes one day, mental health and suicide are topics people aren't afraid to talk about in casual conversation.

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