Some high profile suicides in the news these last few years. They had seemingly perfect lives. So why were they depressed? Why didn’t their family and friends know or save them?
I cried when I learned that Robin Williams had died. He was a comedian, but apparently the clown hid tears behind the smile.
Several musicians have died recently, combined with struggles from addictions.
Kate Spade was 55 years old and found in her New York apartment. Her 13-year-old daughter was at school, and officials said a note was found at the scene, telling her it was not her fault.
“Mental health issues do not discriminate. By all accounts, Kate Spade “had it all”-money, success, fame. None of these things matter when you are sick. Kate was not selfish. Kate was not weak. Kate was sick.” ~Twitter.
Then I wake up to news that Anthony Bourdain allegedly committed suicide in France. He was 61.
His mother, Gladys Bourdain, who was a longtime editor at The New York Times, said she had no indication that Mr. Bourdain might have been thinking of suicide. “He is absolutely the last person in the world I would have ever dreamed would do something like this,” Ms. Bourdain said.
This hit me hard. I have always loved his shows and personality.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you… You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” ~Anthony Bourdain
But the media and most of us move on. How much does it really affect us?
Anyone can suffer from mental illness, depression…and contemplate or succeed with committing suicide.
If you’re struggling, please reach out. Mental illness is treatable, help is available, and suicide is preventable. You don’t need to suffer in silence. Reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting “BRAVE” to 741-741 for free crisis support or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
These guidelines for reporting on suicide can save lives.
As author of the newly published book, It’s OK That You’re Not OK, Megan Devine says that while the conversation around Spade’s death may focus on how people need access to good healthcare/resources in order to prevent suicide, people like Ms. Spade, Robin Williams, and many others have LOTS of resources at their disposal. Access is important, says Devine, but the stigma attached to asking for help is the actual barrier.
Suicide rates in the U.S. increased for everyone between the ages of 10 and 74 from 1999 to 2014, according to the CDC.
It’s ok that you’re not ok.
So many are affected by depression. Some experience depressive episodes periodically, while others suffer from some form of depression all the time. Even when symptoms seem to alleviate for a while, it always lurks in the background.
Weather, illness, chronic pain, loneliness, conflict, and more make depression symptoms worse.
Common stressors are much harder to bounce back from, and cause extra anxiety and worry.
Medication can help, but there are often side effects to consider. Therapy is expensive and often just offers platitudes and weak advice without really helping.
There’s still so much stigma around depression and suicide, including:
“The “cheer up, it’s not that bad” cult of positivity, that pervasive pathologizing of sadness, that eternal advice culture that says it’s your fault if anything is wrong.
Just pray more. I really loathe the whole idea that Christians can’t be depressed. That’s a dangerous attitude.
Life is hard sometimes. Life hurts. When we can’t come to that with respect and kindness – when we can’t respond to that in ourselves and in each other – with respect and kindness, people go silent, and silence can kill you.
Military families suffer in silence. No one wants to be labeled with a mental illness. It can affect careers.
Stress and anxiety in a world of curated perfection on social media makes us strive to reach for something unattainable. It’s not real.
The holidays are especially difficult for people suffering from depression. We feel lost and alone. Stress and perfectionism make us feel worse. The expectations are too much.
Seasonal depression symptoms increase when daylight savings time ends. It really sucks when it gets dark at 5:30 and it’s too cold to go outside.
We need help. We need connection. We need relationship.
Reach out. Bother us. Ask how we’re managing. Invite us anyway. Listen. Just sit there with me. Call, text, email, message.
It’s ok that you’re not ok.