Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Approximately 90% of people who have committed suicide suffered from some form of depression whether they were clinically diagnosed or not. It is unfortunate to see that depression and suicide have such a high correlation with one another; yet, in my opinion, there has not been much advocacy focusing on the importance of mental health and suicide prevention as much as there could and should be.
Being diagnosed with depression was never even seen as a “disease” until the 1980s. Before that time, society had the mind set that if an individual (specifically a child) came from a happy family, safe environment, and basically “privileged” there would be no possible way he or she can be depressed. Fast forward 34 years later and although depression can be clinically diagnosed, I believe the pre-1980 notion still exists today in our society.
Take for instance the use of social media. With the help of applications and sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., individuals can present how they want to be perceived by others: happy, healthy, sociable and stable. Thus, when an individual who fits these four labels come out and say they’re “depressed” they are not taken as seriously. They are just seen as someone complaining and whining so they’re told to “suck it up” or “stay positive.” These two phrases are, in my opinion, the most counter productive thing you can tell someone who claims to be suffering from depression. What most people do not understand is that just like any other emotion, depression does not have an on and off switch that can be flipped when preferred.
In light of Robin Williams’ recent passing, I felt the need to write this. Just like any other human being we are constantly having an internal struggle no matter how much of a facade we put on the outside. If you know anyone who has come out to you about having major depression (whether clinically or self diagnosed), encourage them to seek professional help. It takes one who has gone through depression himself to know that getting better is literally trial by fire and is a constant battle that might seem like it will never end, but it will. So, please just don’t give up.
RIP Robin Williams. “Second star to the right and straight on till morning.” – Peter Pan
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