GRAND FORKS — Mark J. Lindquist, a Democratic candidate for Congress in western Minnesota, announced in a widely shared video on social media that he’d sought mental health treatment last week with the Fargo Veterans Affairs Health Care System, remaining in care for two days.
“Depression and anxiety and suicidal thoughts have been something that I've struggled with for years,” Lindquist said, speaking directly into the camera. “And this past week, on Friday, I checked myself into the Fargo VA mental health clinic, and they admitted me into the hospital. I thought I'd be there for a one-day stay, but they wouldn't let me go. They kept me for two days, because they didn't want me to harm myself. I wanted to be open and honest about that.”
Lindquist, a former Air Force staff sergeant, is perhaps best known regionally as the motivational speaker and singer who performs the national anthem at University of North Dakota hockey games. He launched a bid for Congress earlier this month, seeking to unseat Rep. Michelle Fischbach, a Republican, in the district spanning Minnesota’s western border.
Lindquist’s video, posted to Facebook on Thursday afternoon, July 29, lasts about 5 minutes. He credited U.S. gymnast Simone Biles — who withdrew from Olympic competition this week, facing her own mental health struggle — as an inspiration to share his experience.
“I love what Simone Biles did on the national and world stage. But here, my friends, maybe you don't relate to Simone Biles,” he said. “But you know me. And so maybe somebody who is needing that help, after a long pandemic, after a lot of us have been struggling with mental health this past year ... maybe you can say, well, I know Mark. And if Mark can ask for help, then maybe I could too.”
Lindquist did not offer significant details about his past mental health struggles or their causes. Briefly, though, he did discuss his candidacy for Congress.
“Yes, I am a political candidate, I am a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, and a lot of people would say that the last thing you can do as a political candidate is say stuff like that, and tell people that you're struggling mentally, that you do struggle with depression or suicidal thoughts,” Lindquist said. “(But) I think that's one of the reasons that I have to say this. We need as many people in society to be open and honest about the times that they did need help, and share stories about when they asked for help and how it turned out.”
Lindquist’s message recalls the resignation of former state Rep. Matt Eidson, D-Grand Forks, a Marine veteran who said late last year that he needed to step away from office to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
Lindquist added that he’s continuing to receive mental health support; he’s “getting enrolled in therapy,” and said that Veterans Affairs specialists are helping him build a mental health plan.
“I'm doing everything I can to humble myself and execute that plan,” he said. “I just wanted everyone to know that I'm working on me, I'm prioritizing me, I'm getting better, I will get better, but the first step was to ask for help.”
Anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or visit speakingofsuicide.com/resources for help.