A Seaville, New Jersey woman is sending a powerful and impossible-to-ignore message about mental health.
Greta Schwartz, a 48-year-old mother, is walking 80 miles while pulling a casket from her home to the state capitol. The casket bears the word “revolution,” along with the names of about 70 people who have killed themselves – all of whom Schwartz had a personal connection with.
The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness of mental health issues, including addiction and suicide.
Schwartz set out on her journey on Monday and hopes to reach her destination today. It’s no easy trip, either. Though the casket has two wheels at the narrow end to help Schwartz pull it (aided by a strap fastened to her waist), her feet were badly blistered after the first 40 miles. She has a backpack of water and food stored in the casket.
As Schwartz – like many of us – realizes, mental health issues don’t discriminate.
“I can’t just sit around,” she said. “This is happening. I have over 70 names. That’s just people I have a connection with. Not even strangers.” During a residential stretch of her journey, about a dozen people emerged from their homes to share their personal stories of suicide and to write their loved ones names on the casket.
Schwartz was inspired by a November discussion on mental health from former Rhode Island U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy – the son of former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy – who spoke at Stockton University, and is an advocate for mental health issues.
Kennedy’s told the audience that the only way to make a change was to be loud. “I’m not a professional in the field. I’m just a mom with experience,” Schwartz said. “So my goal in this is to use this election year to really get people to talk about it.”
Her initiative may be morbid, but it definitely sends a chilling, powerful message: it’s time for change.