WASHINGTON, D.C. (WPVI) -- One of Pennsylvania's freshman female congressional members made a brave speech Wednesday on the House floor, revealing that her partner's recent death was a suicide.
Rep. Susan Wild, a Democrat representing Lehigh County in the 7th District, said she made her story public because "I do not want anyone else to suffer."
Wild said she wants everyone to know, "mental health has no boundaries."
She went to the podium Wednesday night saying, "Today marks the one-month anniversary of the death of my beloved life partner, Kerry Acker. What most people don't know is that Kerry's death was a suicide."
She continued, "Kerry was 63 years old. He shouldn't have had a care in the world. He was financially secure and had a warm, loving family and dozens of friends. He loved them all."
"And yet, incomprehensibly, he seemingly did not grasp the toll his absence would have on those who loved him," Wild said.
She called suicide "a national emergency" touching nearly every American community, noting CDC statistics showing suicide rates have risen in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016.
Wild said "help is available 24/7" through 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255.
"To anyone out there who is struggling, I'm urging you to reach out," Wild said. "There are people who love you and who will suffer more than you know if they lose you."
"I do not want anyone else to suffer as he suffered, nor for any family to suffer as mine has over the past month," Wild said.
She urged real action on eliminating stigmas and removing the shame many feel in seeking treatment for depression.
"We need to make it real through our actions," Wild said, which means "building a future where people truly understand that they should feel no more shame over seeking treatment for this disease than they would seeking treatment for any other disease or medical condition."
Pa. Congress member's emotional speech on partner's suicide