Depression & Suicide: The Conversation Must Continue

This week the world got the sad news that Robin Williams had died. The worst part was that he died at his own hands. My thoughts go out to his family and friends who are having to deal with being left behind. I don’t know what brought Mr. Williams to this point, and no one may ever know, but it has brought out the discussion on depression and suicide. Some of it has been good and some not so much. Depression and suicide still carry stigmas, but we have come a long way. Society is starting to properly acknowledge it. People opening up about the subject can be an educational tool, so that those feeling depressed or suicidal can safely get the help they need.

How many have lost their lives, their hope, and their dignity to this disease? How many have not sought help because of the stigma attached to it? A person is not weak, or lazy because of it. But they can be overwhelmed by it. I have dealt with depression since my teens, and yes, I have dealt with suicidal thoughts at times. I am extremely lucky that those attempts failed, and some of them failed for the silliest of reasons, but it worked. But there have been times where I came close, where the thoughts/lies came close to winning. There were times when those lies such as “the world would be better off if I never existed”; “my family would get over it”; etc., were screaming at me. There were times when the pain was so bad that I just wanted it to go away, that I felt I would do anything to make it stop. For some, when they can’t think straight, can’t see reason, can’t see that suicide isn’t the answer, they take that step to end the pain.

I have read many friends’ discussion on what this disease has done to them or someone close to them. I have also read other comments that haven’t exactly done the job, perhaps by people who just wanted to get that article out without carefully reading what they wrote. Some discussions were talking about the dangers of not seeking help, some about how that help has led them to go on with their lives in a meaningful way. It is also important HOW your write you message, so that people get what you are saying.

What needs to happen is for this discussion NOT to go away, not be brushed aside, and for people to take this issue seriously. There can be many reasons, physically and mentally, why people can become depressed. We need to ensure that the stigma against getting that help is removed, that people feel safe about seeking that help is there, and that they don’t have to worry about being judged if they slip or are coming to terms with this for the first time in their lives.

Be that person who is available at 1 am when someone needs that support.  Be that person who will be there when even a stranger could use a hug, because maybe that is all you may have to offer. You never know, you just may be the one who silence the screams because you took the time to care.