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Gastonia Town Hall Meeting To Examine Mental Health Stigma Following Tragedy

GoFundMe for the Self family

A town hall meeting on ending the stigma about mental illness will be held Thursday evening in Gastonia. The event follows the tragedy last month in Bessemer City, where Roger Self drove his car into a restaurant, killing his daughter Katelyn Self and daughter-in-law Amanda Self. Other family members including Roger Self's wife were injured.

Self's pastor has said that Self has recently suffered from a severe bout with mental illness. Town hall organizer and Gastonia City Councilman Robert Kellogg said the Thursday evening event, titled "End the stigma: A mental health town hall meeting," was already in the works. But Kellogg said the recent tragedy added urgency and moved-up the timetable.

Kellogg noted that the events involving the Self family are still a “very raw topic” for many people in Gaston County. 

"We're still dealing with the emotional fallout," the councilman said. "I think there’s maybe a bit of, even, if you want to call it, PTSD, where people are just shell-shocked by what’s happened." 

Kellogg said it’s time for mental health to come off the “back burner” and become an  “action item” for lawmakers.  

Organizations including Gaston County Public Health and several behavioral healthcare providers will participate in the town hall meeting, which will include a panel discussion and questions from the audience. The event is Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church in Gastonia. 

Mark Rumsey grew up in Kansas and got his first radio job at age 17 in the town of Abilene, where he announced easy-listening music played from vinyl record albums.