Editor’s note: This is part four of a multi-part series on depression, suicide and mental health in youth and how families can address these issues openly and proactively with children.


   Emma Olson describes herself as “always been shy.”

   She’s not too shy about her scars, however, whether they’re physical or mental.

   Her body carries welts from self-inflicted knife cuts, but she doesn’t wear sweaters or long pants in the summer anymore to hide them, nor does she seem to mind showing the marks to anyone who’s curious.

   The Lumen High School sophomore is just as up front about her mental health struggles — which once culminated in a stay at a mental health institute.

   That story, like many mental health issues, is much more complex than it seems on the surface.

   Just before Christmas a little over two years ago, Emma was sent to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute for suicidal thoughts. But she said she never had them.

   What she did have were depression and anxiety, leading to two very different ways to try to control them: antidepressants and cutting.

   “With my journey at first, I was really ashamed,” she said about her scars and cuts. “... But after Winnebago, I kind of stopped caring ... I can’t get rid of them,” she added matter-of-factly.

Read more about Emma Olson's journey in the March 16, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.