Bruce Ario, an Advocate for People With Mental Illness, Dies at Age 67!

The writer often spoke and wrote about his experiences with the mental health system to help others.

Bruce Ario had a full, independent life. He worked, wrote, and did a lot of volunteer work, all while dealing with mental health problems that once left him homeless.

“Bruce was kind of a hero to a lot of people,” said John Trepp, who used to run Tasks Unlimited, a nonprofit that helps people with mental illness find housing and get job training. “Bruce had really gotten over his illness and was living a great life.”

Ario, who was 67 and lived in Minneapolis, died suddenly on August 6 after he fell in his home.

Ario was the second of four boys born in 1955 in Virginia, Minnesota. His parents, Frank, a high school teacher, and Georgette, a former housewife who became a librarian, moved the family near Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, where the boys often played outside together, according to the oldest brother, Joel Ario.

Bruce Ario, an Advocate for People With Mental Illness

“Bruce was the most sensitive of the four of us,” Joel Ario said.

Bruce was the smartest of his siblings, but he was also the most daring. After he graduated from Washburn High School, he went to Carleton College, travelled around Europe, and then went to the University of Minnesota to get his degree.

When he hit his head in a car accident, he was working at a hotel in Minneapolis. He got lost and walked around the city for a few days. In a book he wrote later, he talked about how an angel saved his life at Minnehaha Falls.

Joel Ario said that the head injury and its effects—he was hearing voices and seeing things—put him in a mental health ward. At first, he didn’t want to get help. Later, he went to law school at the University of Minnesota, but he still had trouble. His behaviour was all over the place, and he was sometimes homeless. He went to school for two years but didn’t finish, so he was sent to jail.

He finally saw that medicine and therapy could help him get better. In 1988, he joined Tasks Unlimited, where he learned how to get a job and started cleaning. He worked his way up to become the manager of the mailroom, and by 2002 he had bought his own condo.

Joel Ario said that he began writing books, plays, and poems. He also learned karate and ran seven marathons. He got very involved with the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. He went on mission trips to other countries, drove seniors to church, and gave money.

Joel Ario said, “He was such a kind and giving person.” “That’s how he lived.”

He was in charge of many different mental health organisations. Trepp said that he also gave talks and sold his books.

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