Tackling stigma

Daniel+Olson+smiles%2C+wearing+his+%0AIshpeming+Hematites+quarterback+jersey.+Olson%E2%80%99s++tragic+death+in+2012+has+since+inspired+a+movement+to+raise+awareness+about+depression+and+suicide+prevention.%0APhoto+courtesy+of+the+Olson+family.

Daniel Olson smiles, wearing his Ishpeming Hematites quarterback jersey. Olson’s tragic death in 2012 has since inspired a movement to raise awareness about depression and suicide prevention. Photo courtesy of the Olson family.

Jamie Glenn

‘Do It For Daniel’ documentary on suicide awareness to be shown on NMU campus

Mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of who they are and what quality of life they live.

The documentary “Do It For Daniel” is a remembrance of Daniel Olson, a former Ishpeming high school quarterback who lost his life to suicide in 2012 after suffering from clinical depression and anxiety for years. It also follows the football players, the Ishpeming Hematites, who dedicated their championship season that year to honoring Daniel’s memory.

There will be a free public showing of the documentary from 7 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, March 29 in Jamrich room 1100, hosted by the NMU Student Social Work Organization.

Jeff Olson, father to Daniel and the Hematites head coach, set out to share Daniel’s story and start a conversation around the social stigma of mental illness. Thus, the “Do It For Daniel” movement was born.

“Mental illness is the medical illness of the brain, and people don’t understand that it’s just like any other medical illness, [like] the flu or heart condition. People who suffer feel alone, they feel different, and they shouldn’t because it is a medical illness. It is treatable,” Olson said.

Mental illness is unique for each person, he added, and there are different types of treatment. The documentary started after the Olson family met a couple who were affiliated with Fox Sports, who filmed the Ishpeming 2012 championship game, and who also wanted to understand and share Daniel’s story.

“It’s a documentary about Daniel’s story, what Daniel went through, what our family went through, and we’re using that now as an educational tool,” Olson said.

This documentary is a chance to create a discussion around mental health within the
community.

“We’ve found out through this that people aren’t afraid to come forward and ask for help now because they see somebody like them,” Olson said, adding that just because things in one’s life seem perfect, doesn’t mean mental health can’t be a risk. “Daniel had so much going for him, no reason to be sad, no reason to be depressed because he had tons of friends… People can really relate to that.

“It’s not just a documentary, lecturing and throwing statistics—it’s telling Daniel’s story,” Olson said.

As they look ahead for the movement, Olson said their immediate goal is to reach as many people and venues as possible. In the long term, they want to apply for grants and raise more money, in order to improve school curriculums because “our school system is really lacking in mental health awareness,” Olson said.

Senior social work major Lauren Munson shared her inspiration for the Student Social Work Organization to coordinate the screening of “Do It For Daniel” on campus.

“Being a part of the social work program, we deal with a lot of mental health problems. I had wanted to go watch the documentary online and found out that it wasn’t available, so I had contacted [Olson] and he got back to me and was so excited to present it at Northern. I think it’s important because it’s so close to everyone at home here,” Munson said.