Upstate woman turns family tragedy into fight against depression - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate woman turns family tragedy into fight against depression

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Emily Antonio is taking her pain, one day at a time. She lost her father Steven Antonio to suicide in 2012. She said four years later, she's finally not angry anymore. "I didn't understand why he'd want to leave me and my family," said Emily Antonio. 

She said eventually she started to open up to her friends and family about depression. "A lot of my friends told me that they had had a lot of depression in their lives as well and many people even opened up and said that they had had a lot of suicidal thoughts as well," said Antonio.

She said she realized, she wasn't the only one, that dealt with the same illness her dad had. "That kind of blew my mind, cause I thought I was alone... by myself in this situation where I lost a loved one to suicide," said Antonio. 

She said she began to see depression more as a disease and that she wanted to help those who were battling it,"I didn't really know how or why, or what I would do so I started to thinking about making a non-profit organization."

It's called the Steven Antonio Foundation, in honor of her dad, and she's not the only one taking action against mental illness. 

On Wednesday the House of Representatives passed a Mental Health Reform Bill, it would potentially address the shortage of psychiatric beds and child psychiatrists if also passed by the Senate. 

"Caregivers can actually get help for their family members. Right now, our hands are tied a lot of times when someone is very sick, if they refuse help, you can't get it for them," said Martha Durham a licensed psychologist at North Main Counseling in Greenville.

Durham said the bill focuses on the population of people that cannot make good decisions for themselves, and she said it focuses on getting more child psychiatrists for a specific reason.

"If mental illness starts young and you can catch it young, you have better outcomes, so what they're hoping to do is help people when they're much younger so we don't get to the point where they have to be treated in patient," said Durham.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five children between 13 and 18 have or will have mental illness, and  suicide is the second leading cause in death in youth, ages 15 -24.

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