Somerset County campaign seeks to bring suicide out of the shadows
Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 10:11 AM
RARITAN — Augusta Santos is a woman on a mission. She’s converting the pain she’s suffered into action to help others.
Santos is the founder of the Joao Jose “John” Santos Charitable Organization, which will hold its annual Ribbon Awareness Campaign on Sunday, May 1, beginning at 9 a.m. in Raritan.
Six years ago, her husband — for which the group is named — died from suicide. “At that time, there were many red flags” that John was in trouble, Santos said, “But I didn’t recognize them.”
John had suffered from depression and was in treatment, Santos said, and was on medication. But treating depression isn’t like treating a headache. “It can take weeks for medication to take affect,” Santos said. Even then, the medication or dose may need to be altered if the results aren’t what doctors expect.
The event that begins here will continue into Somerville, Manville and Bound Brook before arriving in Flemington in the early afternoon. Santos said participants in the campaign will be walking, running, bicycling and driving through each town’s main streets, displaying her group’s red ribbons with the phrase, “Talk about mental illness.”
Conversation and education are what’s needed, Santos said, to remove the stigma that plagues the disease of mental illness. “Look how cancer treatment has advanced,” Santos said, as awareness by doctors and the public has increased, prompting earlier diagnosis and improving outcomes for patients. “There is no need to be ashamed, embarrassed or guilty” about mental illness, Santos said. “It’s just an illness that affects the brain… it is not contagious.”
Santos is still seeking volunteers to help with Sunday’s campaign. She can be reached at 908-707-1699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Curtis Leeds At 908-782-4747 ext. 697 or email@example.com.