River Bank Run supports, spotlights ‘i Understand’

River Bank Run

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some participants in this year’s Amway River Bank Run will be pounding the pavement for a group focused on eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health issues which can lead to suicide.

“i Understand Love Heals” supports those struggling with mental health illnesses and loved ones who lost a person to suicide. The nonprofit organization is one of several charity partners for the 2019 Amway River Bank Run.

i Understand Founder and President Vonnie Woodrick says the group encourages people to “be the one” to take a simple step to help someone facing a mental health issue.

“It takes one person to understand. It takes one person to call up when you’re having a down day,” she said.

Woodrick says another way to help is to be open to talk about mental health.

“Stigma is the No. 1 reason why people don’t reach out. The more we talk about it every day in every day places, the more we reduce that stigma,” she said.

Woodrick says when approaching the subject of mental health and suicide, words matter.

“Let’s start talking about why someone dies instead of how someone dies. If I were to say my husband killed himself, that makes people uncomfortable. But if I were to say my husband died of depression, we can have a whole different conversation. That’s really our passion and our goal right now,” she explained.

A charity team for i Understand will take part in Saturday’s River Bank Run, raising funds to support the organization’s mission. WOOD TV8’s Sue Shaw plans to join them on the route.

Those who would like to help can also donate directly to i Understand through its website.

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