Suicide and depression. Two words that affect millions of people yearly, yet there is a certain level of taboo associated with these words, so speaking or even thinking of them has a negative connotation. I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to write about this subject because I believe it is important. Even more now, after going through some weeks of feeling low and finding out that a dear childhood friend lost her mom to suicide.
The news hit me hard not only because I knew Claudia* since I was 5 years-old and she was present in many important stages of my life growing up but also because I know this is something disturbingly common. While getting the courage to talk to my friend – we had been somewhat distant for some years – I couldn’t help but wonder what could have encouraged Claudia to end her life like that. I felt somewhat impotent. Many people’s reaction was to judge Claudia – after all, she had been selfish enough to take her own life and leave her only child behind; motherless. I felt the need to write about depression and suicide because often, suicide is not noble; nevertheless, it’s less noble to judge someone’s actions based on assumptions and without considering for a second how desperate and helpless a person must feel to end their own life.
I understand depression is not a constant in my life. I don’t usually feel blue and if I ever do feel sad, I always find a way to see the light again. I have experienced depression in the past, but thankfully I never felt like my life was not worth living. With the help of my family, friends, and a professional, I was able to overcome the gloominess. However, this is not the reality for many people in this world. Depression is extremely common but also extremely neglected. It is not just feeling sad and it is not always the same kind for every person. There are multiple types of depression, so it is not a one size fits all mental illness. It haunts the lives of many and in severe cases, leads to suicide. Sadly, Claudia has become part of that one million people that each year die from suicide.
Depression can strike anyone at any moment, and while there is not a simple reason to explain how or why someone might be depressed and consequently possibly experience suicidal thoughts, there are multiple risk factors that could contribute to it. In a world where appearances are everything and people are constantly feeling the pressure to live up to unrealistic expectations, it is easy to fall in despair and abandon our mental stability. Evidently, mental health does not receive the amount of attention it should. It is our responsibility to take care of our well-being and understanding that it is okay to seek help whenever we feel like we cannot handle life alone. Paying attention to simple signs of depression, can save the life of a loved one or even your own.
Feeling sad, losing interest, sleeping too little or too much, trouble concentrating, chronic exhaustion, change in weight and appetite, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness are just a few of the many possible symptoms of depression. If you, a loved one, or someone you know experience one or multiple of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it is imperative to seek help. Again, depression is incredibly common and very much treatable.
The obscurity of this subject, makes it difficult to fathom the idea that perhaps you are not as alone as that feeling of loneliness makes you think you are and that you are capable and entitled to take control of your mental health and stability. We must take care of ourselves, but being informed and aware is just a small portion of what we should do to ensure we are truly taking care of our well-being. I want to encourage you to take control of your health and spread the word. I have taken the time to find some very interesting (and of course legitimate) links to deepen your knowledge in this subject. Click on the links throughout this post – and the ones below – and play an active role in changing the dark undertone of this subject and help create awareness.
Evidently life is not always fair or happy. Evidently we cannot control everything and we go through unfortunate situations. But in spite of it all, life is always worth it.
*I have changed the name of my friend’s mom to protect her identity.
Some stats and important information:
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS EXPERIENCING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, VISIT THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE OR CALL 1-800-273-8255 – YOU’RE NOT ALONE. CONFIDENTIAL HELP IS AVAILABLE FOR FREE.
Featured image credit: kieferpix/King’s College London