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GLENDALE ( KTVI ) -For the first time the sister of a Glendale mother who allegedly killed her two kids speaks publicly with KTVI-TV about her sister’s mental illness. The sister says she wants to raise the awareness about mental illness with the hope that the outcome will be different for others. It was a story that rocked the city of Glendale Missouri last year. On July 30, 2012 police say Catherine Murch allegedly shot and killed her 9-year old-son and her 8- year- old daughter before turning the gun on herself. It was picture perfect family stricken by tragedy.

Police who responded that day found 42-year-old Catherine Murch in the kitchen, 9-year-old Mitchell Murch III elsewhere on the first floor and 8-year-old Mary Claire Murch on the second floor of the house in Glendale Police say they found a receipt showing Catherine bought the handgun used in the shootings. The Major Case Squad along with the health of the medical examiner ruled the deaths a murder- suicide.

Police and family members confirmed Catherine Murch had a mental health history and suffered from depression. Family members say Catherine had been fighting depression for several years but her condition seemed worse leading up to the shooting .Catherine’s sister Jennifer Giffard is speaking out for the first time about her sisters mental illness. Although Jennifer says she will never understand what happen the day of the shooting ,or the state her sister was in , Jennifer hopes to raise the awareness about mental illness with the hope that maybe someone out there will listen and change their mind about taking their life or the lives of others.

Jennifer would like to become a spokesperson for mental health ne day. ” Love, acceptance and being embraced by a community are key both to recovery and breaking down barriers of stigma,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer also says most people believe that mental disorders are rare and “happen to someone else.” In fact, mental disorders are common and widespread,’ said Jennifer. Most families are not prepared to cope with learning their loved one has a mental illness. Giffard says It can be physically and emotionally trying, and can make you feel vulnerable to the opinions and judgments of others. Giffard would like the public to know if you think you or someone you know may have a mental or emotional problem, it is important to remember there is hope and help.

The National Association of Mental Illness says nearly 60 million Americans experience a mental health condition ever year. Experts say mental illness can be managed successfully with medication and therapy. The National Association of Mental Illness reports the following :

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder , panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

What does recovery look like?

As people become familiar with their illness, they recognize their own unique patterns of behavior. If individuals recognize these signs and seek effective and timely care, they can often prevent relapses. However, because mental illnesses have no cure, treatment must be continuous.

Individuals who live with a mental illness also benefit tremendously from taking responsibility for their own recovery. Once the illness is adequately managed, one must monitor potential side effects.

The notion of recovery involves a variety of perspectives. Recovery is a holistic process that includes traditional elements of mental health and aspects that extend beyond medication. Recovery from serious mental illness also includes attaining, and maintaining, physical health as another cornerstone of wellness.