Daughter of late Downriver business icon uses photography to fight depression

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Her famous father committed suicide 15 years ago. Today, Stephanie Prechter and other artists are using photography to share stories of resilience and putting it on display during Mental Health Awareness month.

"There's no health without mental health - it's a mind body connection and it's really about sharing a story," Prechter said.

Prechter is making that connection through her photography. She's one of 19 artists who have works on display at the Downriver Council for the Arts. The concept: images of resilience. It's a deeply personal one for Stephanie who has bi-polar disorder and first experiencing depression at age 18.

"At that time I had no idea what it meant. I had never really heard these different terms: depression, anxiety, mental health, DSM, suicide. It was never talked about; it was never a part of our world," she said.

But soon it invaded their world when her father, Heinz Prechter - the entrepreneur who built his fortune installing sliding sunroofs in cars - committed suicide after battling bi-polar disorder for decades.

"My dad, he fell victim to suicide in 2001 and for the longest time he did not have a diagnosis," Prechter said she struggles talking about, even 15 years after it happened. "In my mind he's a shooting star and he can never be replicated."

His death and her own struggle have inspired her to tell her family's story - to try to help others.

"That is something also that we're passionate about: to raise awareness, to promote research to help people empower themselves and others and encourage wellness," she said. That grit inside of us and trying to focus on how do we make it through the next day and not only make it but thrive."

The exhibit is already getting strong support from the community. Stephanie is confident her father would approve.

"I think my dad would be really proud. I think he would really appreciate that energy."

You can experience the energy for yourself at the Council for the Arts through June 3rd.

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