Mitchell native, advocate for mental health issues, says 988 suicide lifeline will be a game-changer

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – “It’s a disease of the mind, it’s a chemical imbalance in your brain,” said Becky Scheig, who grew up in Mitchell and now lives in the Minneapolis area.

Scheig and her husband Bill know what it’s like to care for someone with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts. They noticed that their son Andrew was having difficulty starting in elementary school. At first it was obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“He was very worried about germs, he washed his hands a lot, he wouldn’t touch the things that bothered him, like if we went to the gas station and filled up with gasoline, the fumes would make him sick,” Scheig said.

As Andrew got older they saw some big changes.

“You could see the anxiety in him was just horrible and we took him back to a psychologist and he was diagnosed with OCD and severe depression and the depression was coming on, he knew those thoughts he was having wasn ‘ were not normal thoughts, ”Scheig said. .

At one point, Andrew’s anxiety got so severe that he had thoughts of suicide. Becky and her husband worked to get Andrew the help he needed, whether it was advice on the right medication or a half-day treatment plan, and he walked away. well come out… for a while.

“In grade 8 with therapy and drugs he was doing really well, I mean it was a game changer, you know it’s great, but with mental health and addiction it just doesn’t go away. You know you have to learn to manage your disease and that’s what it is, it’s a disease, ”Scheig said.

Andrew died of an accidental overdose at the age of 19.

“I went to wake him up, he didn’t want to wake up but Andrew took medicine to help him sleep because he had these ruminating thoughts all the time, so he was prescribed medicine to help him sleep. . And he didn’t wake up and then I felt his face and it was cold to the touch. Bill, my husband happened to be at home, and as you know he’s a doctor, he was waiting for me in the car and I ran to get him and he got down and he was dead for a while. So, was it suicide? Unforeseen. accidental overdose yes, but did his sanity cause it? Absoutely.”

Janet Kittams of the Helpline Center in Sioux Falls says no parent should have to go through what the Scheigs did. She believes that one of the biggest benefits of the helpline, besides ease of use, is the impact it will have on the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“I think when 988 is promoted nationally it really becomes that easy access point for mental health issues, it’s just going to make it mundane for people to ask for help to reduce this.” stigma, Kittams said.

Becky agrees that stigma is a problem, she talks to groups and works to educate others, all the while remembering the struggles Andrew worked so hard to overcome.

“Would he have thought of calling a crisis hotline?” I do not know, maybe. But if that’s what’s available to anyone who needs it. You know, and not having to look for the number like now, I don’t even know it’s like a fit or anything, so 988 is going to be a huge difference, I think, ”Scheig said.

By July 16 of next year, by dialing “988”, your call will be routed to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Lifeline. Some systems are already in the process of upgrading to “988”. Sending SMS for help will also be available.


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