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By Robert Spencer
The death of Robin Williams has brought the public’s attention to depression and suicide. Depression is a common problem with people all around the globe. In fact, nearly 80% of people who suffer from depression don’t get the proper treatment (medication and/or therapy) that may make them feel better.
Statistically, major clinical depression is one of the most common mental disorders in America. It is most prevalent among middle-aged Caucasian men. Let’s look at what else we’ve learned in the past week about depression and suicide.
#1) Suicide Survivors
I recently read this article about suicide survivors on Huffington Post. In it, the writer (Katie Hurley) talks about how she is a suicide survivor. No, she hadn’t attempted it before, she survived her father when he committed suicide when she was a child.
In the article she focuses on the fact that people focus on calling suicide a “selfish act” but it is not. She says that the general public thinks that it is selfish for people to leave their children and other loved ones behind. The most poignant line in the article (from my perspective is the line):
“Until you’ve stared down that level of depression, until you’ve lost your sould to a s ea of emptiness and darkness… you don’t get to make those judgements.”
It is easy for us to label suicide as a selfish act in reference to the person’s loved ones but one of the commenters said it best when she noted:
“There is nothing selfish about suicide. What is selfish is those of us who are left behind thinking that our loved one, who experienced such debilitating pain, somehow owed it to US to live.”
What have we gleaned from this? Don’t be judgmental when it comes to depression and suicide when you have no personal experience yourself. It is hurtful and disrespectful.
#2) What is Depression?
Depression is a mental condition that affects more than 1 out of every 15 Americans (according to the National Institute of Mental Health). It’s more than just feeling sad. Depression symptoms include intense moments of sadness, losing interest in things that you previously enjoyed, will last for more than a moment or a day.
A majority of men don’t even know that they have depression. Not only that, those who are diagnosed with depression are too ashamed to look for help because of the stigma of depression.
Those individuals who are most likely to suffer from depression are those who are unemployed and recently divorced. If you know someone who is going through a tough time like that, make sure that you’re reaching out to them. Sometimes all it takes is to know that you can call someone in your time of need.
#3) Medication & Therapy
It is treatable with medication and therapy. If you talk with someone who has taken medication for their depression, they’ll probably tell you that the medication makes you foggy and feel, well, blah. That is the reason why most people who are prescribed medication don’t take it. I urge you to encourage them to talk with their doctors in order to find a happy medium.
Have them tell their doctor about how the medication makes them feel. Perhaps they can change the dosage or change to a different prescription. Perhaps, they may take them off the medication all together and opt for therapy instead. There are choices and there are options.
The death of Robin Williams has sparked the acknowledgement and outreach for those who are suffering from depression. Part of it stems from how much he had affected those around him and those he didn’t even know; by bringing joy and happiness to everyone, making us smile, and by bringing laughter into our lives.
But part of it stems from the fact that not everyone realized that he suffered from depression. How can a man who could bring so much joy into other peoples’ lives suffer from depression? He appeared to have it all. It just goes to show that this debilitating disease knows no bounds and that no one is safe from its affects.
If you suspect that a loved one (or if you) is suffering from depression or is having suicidal thoughts, please reach out because there are plenty of resources out there.
Check out the Suicide Prevention Center or call its hotline: (877) 7-CRISIS.
You can also go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call their number at 1-800-273-8255.
If you’re a bit too shy to talk to someone directly, there is a Crisis Text Line available. Text “listen” to 741741.
There are people that want to help.
Now it’s your turn. Have you battled depression before? Do you know the signs of depression or suicidal thoughts? Are you a suicide survivor? Were you affected by Robin Williams’ death? Tell us your story. Help other readers by reaching out. We want to hear from you! Share your opinions, thoughts, ideas, and questions with us in the comment section below.