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To Prevent Youth Suicide, Family Battles Stigma of Mental Health


LEXINGTON, Ky. - A mother and father who lost their youngest son to suicide are urging other parents, educators, and health professionals to watch for warning signs of depression.

In 2003 Kevin Graham, an ROTC cadet studying at the University of Kentucky, took his own life. Nine months later his older brother was killed while serving in Iraq.

For retired Major General Mark Graham and his wife Carol, their mission now is to speak about the reality of suicide.

“We thought the same thing. ‘Not our son. Oh no, not our son.’ He wanted to be an Army doctor. He’ll get through this. Well, maybe not. And our son did not. We live with that the rest of our lives and we don’t want any other family to have to live with that and lose someone they love.”

The Grahams were among several speakers in Lexington Friday at the annual  Stop Youth Suicide conference.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, suicide is the third leading causing of death among youth ages 10-24.

“We’ve gotta eliminate the stigma of getting care for mental health. You’ve got to treat it like you do physical ailment. If something was wrong with your liver or heart or lungs, you’d get your child care immediately. What about mental health? It needs to be the same way,” says Mark Graham.

Other discussions at the forum focused on intervention techniques, teenage perspectives, body image, and substance abuse.

Lexington native Brenna Angel anchored local morning newscasts for WUKY through May 13. She joined the station in March 2010 after previously working for WHAS-AM in Louisville.