Just yesterday, I told my sister that I needed to write another blog, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. Well, apparently the universe already knew before I could figure it out.
An illness that almost always goes undetected until it’s too late or until someone finally says something. I call it the silent killer. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov), depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44, and is more prevalent in women than men. While this disorder is highly treatable, only about 36% of us suffering get treatment. And yes, I said “us”. I also have battles with depression, alongside some of my friends and family members.
Last night I had the scare of my life when I was notified that one of my family members was missing and there was possibly a suicide note left behind. My heart was very heavy because I knew the situation and I feared that depression had won that fight. Thankfully depression, in fact lost and my family member is still fighting the fight.
That is not so much the case this morning. While scrolling through Instagram thinking of what to post for the day, I came across photos of my children’s pediatrician along with words of sorrow from a close friend of mine. My heart immediately dropped as I tried to figure out what happened to this lovely woman. I reached out to my friend, whom was a work associate of our pediatrician, to get answers and what she told me made my heart drop even further. As tears rolled down my face, I realized that this is what God was telling me to write about.
Our pediatrician had apparently suffered from depression and committed suicide earlier this week. While I had seen signs of what I thought was just fatigue from long hours at work or her child keeping her up at night, I never thought to stop and ask if she was ok. I’d always ask about her now 2 year old daughter and of course get medical advice for the kids, but not once took the time to think that maybe she herself needed help. Why didn’t she tell someone? Why didn’t she seek help? What about her daughter and husband? These are some of the questions running through my mind as I’m thinking back and writing this post.
So why do we suffer in silence? Most of us don’t say anything for fear of judgment, criticism, and humiliation. We fear telling someone because they may turn around and talk about us and look at us like we’re crazy. This is the main reason why depression is so greatly linked to suicide. Sadly enough, suicide is the answer to many in desperation to make the pain stop.
According to the National Network of Depression Centers, in the U.S. alone, “there is one death by suicide every 12 minutes” (www.nndc.org). That is an average of about 120 per day, 840 per week, and more than 43,680 per year. These numbers could significantly decrease if we just pay attention to the small signs and speak up. There are so many forms of treatment that can and will help, from therapy to medication, we just have to be aware and speak up. We never know what someone is going through in their personal life, but if we pay attention, speak up, and support, we just may save a life.
Here is how you can help someone fight depression:
Acknowledge – If you see signs, even the smallest change in a person, acknowledge them.
Accept- Accept that this person needs help and let them know that you are willing to assist.
Listen- Be a listening ear. This may be his or her last cry for help.
Support- Show your support and understanding for what he/she is going through. It means everything to have a shoulder in times of depression.
Be there without judgment- Reassure him/her that you will not judge them. They will in turn open up and feel better about the problem.