Friday, August 15, 2014

Let's Talk About Suicide, Baby

This was going to be an issue that we let slide into the pile with so many other things we would have liked to write about this summer (there's been so much), but sometimes there are some people who write some things that crawl into this brain and gnaw at the edges. To eradicate it, is to write. To cleanse the mind...

Mental illnesses, like true chronic depression, is not reserved for the successful, or the talented...nor is it reserved for the poor or disenfranchised.
Mental illness is often due to chemical imbalances of the brain, among many other factors.
(Causes of Depression
Those chemical imbalances know no income level, or social status, or level of talent.

To spread a blanket over suicide and claim it to be selfish, or claim it to be for certain people who deserve it (whether it be because they lived a great life they couldn't handle, or a shitty one, or because they were an icon, or a nobody) is presuming you know the life or support structure, or health, or the mind, of the person who has committed it (or attempted it). You assume a lot the minute you judge someone for making a decision about their life, just because they weren't thinking about you (or the people so many claim loved them), or because their life was a certain way, or worse, because you feel the experience you had with the same mindset/illness is somehow the same for everybody else.

Perhaps the person doesn't have a support system, or if they do, that support system doesn't take their issues seriously, know...depression so bad that they can't imagine a way out other than to kill themselves, is selfish, "all in their head", not real, their fault...
It's not true, (even if you think it is) but often there is nobody in that support system that has ever truly experienced severe depression. In these cases, it's true that nobody understands.
But luckily there are countless people in the world that do. They aren't always easy to find, but if you can't be supportive, you can help find people who are. You can help. You can't help by being judgmental or selfish, you can help, by helping, by listening. Watching for the signs. Understanding the illness.

Depression is not simply about being sad, or being unhappy with your life, or being "bored". 
While those things contribute to overall depression, it's much more.

Another problem that is growing increasingly common for mental health disorders and issues is the prevalence of them (the terms) being depreciated in meaning by people who pretend for attention, or people who joke (for attention), or people who insert the term that describes very real symptoms as a verb, to sound relevant or make their report "pop" (such as in the media), or people who are simply uneducated and inexperienced with real mental health issues. Or people who are ignorant and hateful.

A good example of a depreciated mental illness going the way of depression, is schizophrenia. Over the last year or so there has been an increase in media personalities using schizophrenia as a verb to describe something random, or disordered; just like people saying they are depressed, when they are simply sad, this distorts the true meaning of the word. This devalues the seriousness of the issue, reduces the likelihood of people dealing with real symptoms to be taken seriously, or feel that they'll be taken seriously.

You don't have to agree, of course. But many mental illnesses, including real depression, have very real symptoms - physiological and psychological. Sometimes symptoms people have become skilled at hiding for periods of time. Sometimes signs and symptoms that are obvious - but in a world where people are increasingly concerned with self, they go unnoticed, or become demonized.

And just because you've experienced some sort of depression, and were able to overcome it, doesn't mean everybody can. You can't expect people to be as strong as you, but you can encourage them to be strong. Belittling people, making them a victim of your ignorance, is not a display of strength.

Mental illness is illness.

[BUT...don't forget: 'A Message To Your Diagnosis']

Bottom line...
  • You would no more tell a person's family grieving the death of someone who suffered from cancer that because you had cancer and got chemo and beat the cancer, that their family member should have been able to.
  • You would no more walk around saying "Man, I'm feeling so cancerous today".
  • You would no more tell a person with Ebola that because you had the flu pretty bad once you know exactly how they feel.
The one thing that does not help is making people who, sadly, are a victim of the chemicals in their brain, feel like they are victim of your hate, your ignorance, your scorn...your bullying.

You calling people who commit suicide selfish (or weak) is not going to stop them from taking their life, if anything, they want to stop hearing how their mental health issues are just them being needy, or wanting attention, or being weak.
People who think about committing suicide, or commit suicide, see no way out of their situation...of the hell in their brain.
You boarding up the door is not going to help them, talking about it openly and compassionately just might.

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