WASHINGTON — After a late vote Tuesday night, Rep. Susan Wild gave an emotional speech honoring her partner, Kerry Acker, on the House floor. Acker died by suicide last month.
Wild said her partner “shouldn’t have had a care in the world,” and he had loving friends and family.
“Why am I sharing this very personal story? Because we all need to recognize that mental health issues know no boundaries. I do not want anyone else to suffer as he suffered, nor for any family to suffer as mine has over the past month,” Wild said.
Wild, a Democratic representative from Pennsylvania, talked about creating a future where people don’t feel ashamed about discussing mental health issues or seeking medical treatment. “Removing the stigma cannot just be a slogan — we need to make it real through our actions,” she said.
Wild called mental health a “national emergency,” one every community in the United States has confronted. She noted that in 2017 there were 47,000 suicides and 1.4 million attempted suicides, citing statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“Behind these numbers are grieving partners and spouses, parents and children, siblings, friends, and relatives,” she said.
Wild urged those who are struggling to reach out for help, and those who are concerned about someone not to wait to call or visit them. “There are people who love you,” Wild said.
Wild’s speech came exactly one month after her longtime partner, Acker, an attorney, killed himself.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line.