Mental Health Awareness: More Awareness Needed

Mental Health

Because suicide has touched my own family, I struggle to understand the lack of awareness in other people regarding the inability of those who suffer with depression to “get on” with life.

In a response to an article in the Daily Mail about the recent death of Robin Williams, and that’s just one place that you’ll find this lack of awareness, there are a myriad of comments that show how people don’t fully understand how debilitating depression can be. Not just to the person who is depressed, but to the people who love them as well.

If there was as much attention given to Mental Health Awareness as  there is to AIDS and Cancer and presently ALS we wouldn’t see comments like those above. These comments show a complete lack of awareness of mental health issues.

Is it because the person who has depression seems in perfectly good health on the exterior? Is it because we can’t see the hurt? Is it because there is still a taboo in our society about depression and other mental health issues? I don’t know. But I do know that apart from being disgusted at how much information, and precise information, we know now about Robin Williams’ death, we as a society are showing  lack of knowledge about mental health.

We shouldn’t know how the man died, it is enough to know that he suffered from depression and ended his life. What we should know, and what we should be asking about is how many people suffer from depression? Are medications successful in treatment of it? What are the signs to look for if someone is contemplating suicide? These are the questions and answers we should be interested in, not the gory details of how he did it.

Having lost a brother 24 years ago to suicide, I know that my brother didn’t wake up one morning in his 17th year of life and suddenly decided to choose depression. I know his depression was a chemical imbalance. He didn’t decide to just try depression on to see how it suited him. He didn’t wake one morning in his 28th year thinking this is my last day. That was a decision made in a moment of despair, and utter loss of hope. 

Depression is indiscriminate. It doesn’t care how wealthy, smart, good looking, poor, ignorant, or plain you are. Depression chooses you.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we dedicated as much effort to Mental Health Awareness as we are currently doing to this ALS ice water challenge?

I just heard that FOX news reporter, Shepherd Smith, called Robin Williams a coward for taking his own life. This is the ignorance I am talking about.

In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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