Three years ago today, Robin Williams killed himself. It was a shocking and sad end to a life devoted to bringing other people happiness and laughter. Since then many other celebrities have committed suicide as well. Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park are the most recent examples
These celebrity deaths always get a lot of attention, but there’s a lot of suffering out there you don’t hear as much about. 132,000 other Americans have committed suicide since Robin Williams death. Is that a lot? It seems like more than a lot to me, but numbers can be hard to wrap the mind around. They can be unfathomable, like the distance between galaxies. So let’s put it another way: suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America today. It doesn’t have to be.
Anxiety disorders like depression affect 40 million adults in the United States. That’s about 1 out of every 5. And only about one-third of those seek out and receive treatment.
That’s not good, and it tells me we’re still dealing with stigma around mental health in this country. We have to get over that. You know someone who is suffering. I do. For many of us it’s our spouse, our child, our mom or our dad. They want help. They may not know how to ask for it.
People suffering from depression can’t tackle it by themselves. They can’t wish their sadness away, or tell themselves to cheer up. They aren’t choosing to feel this way, and their mental illness is not their fault. It’s a real disease with real symptoms requiring real treatment. It’s no different from heart disease or cancer. When you have it, you need to go see a professional.
And like heart disease and cancer, there are plenty of treatments available. There are things you can do to fight back and overcome, but you need help and support.
Reach out and help someone
If you know someone suffering, reach out. They need to know they’re not alone, they’re loved, and there’s help available. It may be tough. It may seem like your efforts aren’t appreciated. They are. Be bold, the person you’re thinking about right now in your head is worth the trouble.
And if you’re the one suffering, please reach out to someone. You need to know you’re not alone, you’re loved, and there’s help available. It may be tough, and it may seem like your efforts aren’t going anywhere, but you’re worth the trouble.
If you want to know more about depression, this Psychology Today article is a good place to start. It tackles many of the common misconceptions about depression.
If you need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273-TALK (8255). It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The calls are confidential.