SULLIVAN, IND. (WTHI) -- Local residents want to remind you that mental health should be prioritized at all times of the year. We are just coming out of Mental Health Awareness Month. But one local family is doing what it can do to keep it in the spotlight, after dealing with a family tragedy.
Mike Frey from Sullivan, Indiana lost his 18-year-old son, Cade Frey, to suicide last November. People who knew Cade said he was the kind of person that lit up any room he was in. Now, his father is taking a stance to promote mental health. He wants to use his story to remind others they are not alone.
Cade Frey was a normal 18-year-old boy who loved riding dirt bikes and spending time with friends. Nobody expected what would happen last fall.
"On November 24, I found my son took his own life," Mike Frey, Cade's father, said.
His father says the hardest part was how unexpected it was.
"We had no warning," he said. "We had no thoughts that he would ever do anything like this. It never ever would have crossed my mind that anything like this would ever happen."
According to Indiana's Center for Youth Suicide and Abuse, suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens in the state. Recently, this has become more of a problem.
"With so many things going on with the pandemic, with things getting canceled, there's a lot of kids and a lot of adults that are really struggling right now. They are not out in public like they used to be. They are not out at ball games or doing things like they used to."
Mental Health America says anxiety and depression are also significantly on the rise. They report anxiety screenings have gone up 634%, while depression screenings are up 873%. Both of those are just in the last year.
"You never know what someone else is going through because people mask it very well," Baylee Pitts, Cade's childhood friend, said. "With Cade, we had no idea that he was struggling. We had no idea how he felt and it was too late by the time we did find out."
Now, Cade's father is speaking at local schools and helping more teens prioritize their mental health. He hopes that his son's story will spread more awareness to others struggling.
"My son had a bad morning, and it changed everything," he said. "Whatever he was thinking was nothing that couldn't be overcome. There are so many great things out there. There are so many great things to look forward to. Suicide is the only death that is preventable."
If you or anyone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideations, there are resources for you. The Hamilton Center in Terre Haute is offering free suicide training to local Hoosiers. Click here to learn more.
For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 800-273-8255.