Rep. Susan Wild honored her late partner in a tearful floor speech Tuesday night.
Wild shared that her longtime partner, attorney Kerry Acker, died by suicide exactly one month ago. She made the revelation in a speech on the House floor during a stretch of voting on a bill to direct emergency spending to the U.S. Southern Border.
The freshman Democrat from Pennsylvania said she hoped talking about his death would raise awareness of mental health as a public health issue.
“Why am I sharing this personal story? Because I want everyone to know that mental health issues know no boundaries,” Wild said. “Every community in our country has been touched in some way by major mental health challenges.”
Mental health problems including depression and substance use disorders are major risk factors for suicide, research shows.
Wild has co-sponsored bills to increase the number of Medicaid demonstration programs aimed at improving access to community mental health services, and to increase the availability of telemedicine for mental health treatment under Medicare.
“To anyone who is concerned about someone in their lives, please pick up the phone, or take that drive to go see them,” Wild said.
The congresswoman encouraged individuals in need to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.