FRANKLIN — Mark Mullins lost his son, Patrick, to suicide.
"Like many, many kids his age, or people who have mental health issues, they hide it, they try their best not to show it," said Mullins.
After Patrick's death, Mark joined local non-profit Just Live and served as the organization's president for three years.
He was at the Rock Sports Complex in Franklin on Sunday, volunteering for Just Live's 12th annual Labor of Love Music Festival.
The event featured a lineup of folk rock and bluegrass bands from around the state and region. They performed on the stage at the Umbrella Bar.
Just Live formed after Jamie Leigh Wilson, of Burlingtion, and two other members of their community took their own lives.
A goal of the non-profit's suicide prevention mission is to break down the stigma of talking about depression.
"There are some folks who can't talk about it, who feel embarrassed, ashamed. They view these as another category, a completely different type of illness one can power through or pull themselves up by their bootstraps," said Bill Cullinan, the dean of Marquette University's College of Health Sciences.
But Cullinan says that's just not true. Mental illnesses, he says, are biological diseases, like heart disease and cancer, and they require biological solutions.
At Labor of Love, Marquette University set up an educational booth to share some of the College of Sciences ongoing work in mental illness research.
Researchers at Marquette, says Cullinan, are working on treatment that combines medication and therapy, though it will take years of clinical trials to receive FDA approval.
According to the Milwaukee County Examiner's Office, there were ten suicides in the county in July and nine last month.
A state report from last year shows that from 2000 to 2017, suicide jumped by 40 percent in Wisconsin. And according to state data, there were an average of 882 suicides a year between 2017 and 2019.
Mark Mullins has a message for anyone worried about the mental health of a loved one.
"Never give up. Keep struggling. You're gonna have problems. That person is struggling," said Mullins. "So don't give up. I know people who haven't given up and they've won."