Last week, ETSU students had the opportunity to participate in a candlelight vigil to honor survivors of suicide, and next week, students and the public are invited to attend the award winning documentary on mental illness: “Walking Man.”

“Walking Man” recounts father and son, Mark and Eric Norwine and their 200 mile walk across Missouri to raise mental health awareness after three students committed suicide at a high school in St. Clair, Missouri.

Along the journey, both Mark and Eric confront their own mental health struggles.

Mark and Eric will be at the free screening of the movie to participate in a Q&A discussion session after the film.

ETSU’s College of Nursing, College of Education, department of counseling and human services and University School are sponsoring the event that will start at 6 p.m. in the Culp Auditorium on Dec. 1.

University School Director, Troy Knechtel said the school’s 8th through 12th graders will participate in a viewing of the documentary during the school day on Dec. 1 but the community is welcome to attend the 6 p.m. event.

Counselors will be available at both screenings of the movie to answer questions or to offer assistance.

Knechtel recognizes that this film will hit close to home for many, 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental disorder.

“Many of us have been touched by this illness. It may be a family member, a close friend, a colleague or it may be something we are struggling with ourselves,” Knechtel said. “And the longer that silence reigns, the longer people suffer the effects of not only the illness but the shame of the stigma placed on it.”

Knechtel also compared the stigma of mental illness to the stigma surrounding illnesses such as AIDS and cancer.

“In both cases, countless people suffered in silence and shame as society grappled with how to respond to the needs of those who suffer while keeping others safe from the illnesses,” he said.

Knechtel hopes that this film will help in erasing the sigma of mental illness in the Johnson City community.

For more information on the documentary, check out