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Suicide Awareness

“Be aware, be kind. Losing someone to suicide is not a club you want to be in.”

A friend posted this shortly after Kate Spade took her own life. Unfortunately, there are too many of us in the club and the numbers keep growing.  According to a report from the CDC released June 2018, nearly 45,000 suicides occurred in the United States in 2016 — more than twice the number of homicides — making it the 10th-leading cause of death. Among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death. In my state of ND, the rate of suicides between 1999-2016 jumped more than 57%.

Why is this happening?  What’s different? More importantly, what can we do to help those that are suffering?  It seems like after the death of a famous person, there’s a big push on social media for people that are suffering to reach out, to get help, to know that people care.  It’s easy to sit behind a computer screen and share those posts and think we’ve done our part to help. For the person with depression however, it’s not as easy as it seems.  Part of what depression does is distort reality. Depression, anxiety, etc. give your mind the wrong messages. They tell you to be afraid of things you know you shouldn’t be afraid of. They tell you that you aren’t good enough and you don’t deserve to be alive and that things won’t ever get better. They tell you that everyone is out to get you, that everyone is looking at you, that everyone is judging you. A depressed person will often feel they are burdening others with their problems.  They may not be able to reach out. If you are not depressed and you see someone struggling, YOU reach out. If you don’t see someone who used to be around, YOU reach out.  Make an effort to nurture relationships with friends. Everyone’s busy, maybe too busy, but take the time anyway. Spending a half hour over coffee, or chatting on the phone, can be a lifeline.  Now that’s not to say that people with depression will be “fixed” by our friendship. Depression is complicated and there’s no “one-size-fits-all” for treating it, but being kind to others will never hurt.

There’s so much misunderstanding about depression and anxiety.  It’s not just “feeling down” or “being sad”. It’s an ILLNESS and not something that can be cured by being told, “Try to be happy,” “Just look at the bright side of life,” or “Pray more.” Anxiety is an ILLNESS and isn’t cured with “Just don’t be afraid of …” or “Get over it”.  Not everyone with depression is home in bed sobbing uncontrollably.  Many are highly functioning but still severely depressed. Kate Spade and Robin Williams, just to name a few, are people we never knew had depression.  Now maybe we shouldn’t have known because it’s their private business. However, we know that Patrick Swayze was battling pancreatic cancer and that Joan Lunden is a breast cancer survivor. We know that Scott Hamilton is a testicular cancer survivor.  We have no problems discussing illnesses of the body, so why is it any different discussing illnesses of the brain? We need to stop judging those with mental illness. Would you judge someone with cancer? Would you tell them to just “get over it?” As though people suffering from mental ILLNESS could somehow just wish it away.  Believe me when I say they would wish it away if they could!

Until society really accepts mental illness as an ILLNESS, those suffering will continue to hide their condition.

If you’ve lost someone to suicide and are looking for a memorial gift, please check out Kidderbug Kreations for a large selection of thoughtful sympathy gifts.

“Be aware, be kind. Losing someone to suicide is not a club you want to be in.”

Anne from Kidderbug Kreations

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