Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Hope, help & tragedy in Faribault July 22, 2021

I photographed this woman’s shirt at a public event in Northfield. The message refers to struggles with mental illness. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

IF YOU’VE FOLLOWED my writing long enough, you understand my dedication to increasing awareness on two important issues—domestic violence and mental health.

This week, both made headlines in my community. I can’t let this opportunity slide without sharing what’s happened/is happening in Faribault. We need to stay informed, to choose awareness over sticking our heads in the sand. Understanding leads to action and, perhaps, saving lives.

First the really good news for Faribault and the surrounding region (according to the Faribault Daily News): Our local hospital, District One, and Rice County Social Services are collaborating on new adult outpatient mental health services. The hospital, part of Allina Health, will offer a day treatment program and a partial hospitalization program for adults dealing with mental illnesses. Social services will provide referrals.

Photographed at the Northfield Public Library. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

To say I am thrilled is an understatement. This is so needed in Rice County and the surrounding rural areas. Our access to mental health care, especially during or following a crisis, is limited. Waiting time to see a psychiatrist, if that doctor is even accepting new patients, can be up to six weeks. Can you imagine waiting six weeks if you were experiencing a heart attack? You would likely die. Individuals facing mental health issues—from depression to anxiety to bipolar to schizophrenia and more—deserve, and need, immediate access to local care. As do their families.

To get treatment and support locally, rather than traveling to the Twin Cities metro, will ease some of the stress during an already stressful situation. Even with this improvement in services, though, we really need more mental health professionals to alleviate the shortage and meet the area’s needs.

Stress, while a bit of a buzzword, is part of life. And this week my community feels especially stressed by a murder-suicide, which left a 32-year-old woman dead, allegedly shot by her 27-year-old boyfriend, who then killed himself. It’s devastating. Two young people dead in an apparent act of domestic violence.

A mosaic on the exterior of the Faribault Chamber of Commerce & Tourism office honors employee Barb Larson, murdered there on December 23, 2016. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

My heart breaks every time I read of such murder-suicides, or any act of domestic violence. Shortly before Christmas 2016, Barb Larson was shot and killed by her ex-husband, who then took his own life, in a high profile case in Faribault. She worked for the local tourism office. He was a retired police officer. That crime shook Faribault to its core.

Likewise, I expect the murder of Amanda Schroeder on Monday evening is prompting similar angst. And increasing awareness of the ongoing crime of domestic violence. HOPE Center, which advocates for victims of domestic and sexual violence, is already reminding the community that advocates are available to listen, help and support. 24/7.

In both of these situations—domestic abuse/violence and mental health crises—people are here to help. I feel thankful to live in a community that cares. No one ever needs to feel alone, to face life’s challenges and stresses solo.

Warning signs of domestic abuse/violence from a previous community event on the topic. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I know Amanda tried. She called 911. To make that call took strength and courage. Still, she died. If Amanda’s death can save one life, can result in one person safely leaving an abusive partner, then something positive has come from this tragedy.

Where does all of this leave us as individuals? I encourage you to educate yourself on domestic abuse/violence and mental illness. Then take that knowledge and show your care and compassion to those who need it. To those experiencing challenges. And their families. Listen. Support. Encourage. Refer to professionals. Be that person who chooses not to ignore, but rather to be there. To engage. To understand. To uplift. To care.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

8 Responses to “Hope, help & tragedy in Faribault”

  1. Mark Ritchie Says:

    Thank you again for both this hopeful news and terrible news – both keep me motivated and focused.

  2. […] Hope, help & tragedy in Faribault — Minnesota Prairie Roots […]

  3. Sandra Says:

    Thankful to hear formal resources are being directed to help…as much as they can. Hesitate to comment, except not surprised each of these incidents has registered deeply – seems so unnecessary, the fabric of our bountiful country having such violence. Some of it can be explained medically, but not in the numbers we see daily in the news. Domestic abuse has been around long time, called by different names. People have died, maybe not by guns, but died. Bothers me in some social media comments, this male had previous behavior incidents, should’ve not been freely socializing. George Floyd’s policeman had been cited, the police union kept him working. That fact wasn’t allowed at the trial. Different issues needing big help, which clergy gets involved in indirectly, but quickly. They have a big role. Thank YOU for caring!

  4. Becky Spitzack Says:

    I don’t advocate the Northfield Library buttons.
    They are negative and depressing. I would rather meet a depressed stranger wearing a 😃 button.
    There is always hope.
    But thanks Audrey for giving Amanda some press.
    It’s a Very involved issue…Was it the alcohol? Was it the guns? Was it the cohabitation relationship gone sour? Was it Domestic violence? How much did poor Mental Health play into the deaths? It’s all getting mixed together. Should it?

    • I think the library buttons are meant to reduce stigma and open conversation.

      As far as Amanda, I won’t speculate about causes. But her murder certainly fits the definiton of “domestic violence.” That’s not a question. Other than that, we know that a gun (s) were involved as was alcohol, according to law enforcement.


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