I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is reprinted from the 12/16/11 edition with permission.
THE EASY WAY OUT
There’s usually nothing good about a hushed conversation in the hallway. Last week proved to be consistent with that rule.
“I heard he killed himself.”
Then another hushed conversation… “He had been depressed for a long time.”
Then a couple of Facebook posts… “He was in a mood. So sad.”
A few tweets then popped by my screen… “My friend was depressed.” “I had a friend who killed herself.” “#RIP”
So, that was last week.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on mental health or depression or suicide. I get my knowledge like most of us do, from Google. And here’s what the Internet says about depression (from Washington University School of Medicine):
*Of the estimated 17.5 million Americans who are affected by some form of depression, 9.2 million have major or clinical depression
*Two-thirds of people suffering from depression do not seek necessary treatment
*80% of all people with clinical depression who have received treatment significantly improve their lives
*The economic cost of depression is estimated at $30.4 billion a year
*Women experience depression about twice as often as men
*By the year 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression will be the number two cause of “lost years of healthy life” worldwide
*According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the ninth leading cause of death in the United States in 1996.
We’ve all got times in our lives where we’re grumpy or down or even depressed. The absolute worst solution to that is to unsubscribe from life. For those of you who might have considered that solution, or those of you who have considered considering that solution–just know that it’s a terrible idea. It leaves the rest of us to hold hushed conversations in the hallways and makes the rest of us depressed about depression.
Let me offer up another suggestion. Call someone. Anyone. What you tell that person isn’t as important as telling that person something. You can tell them that you’re down.
You can tell them that you’re depressed. You can use big words or you can use small words. You can tell them you’re suicidal or that you’ve considered checking out. You can blame it on the Chiefs or Christmas or your wife or your dog. Just start the conversation. Don’t leave it all in your head. Your head is a bad place for depressed thoughts to rattle around.
If you can do that, then you’re strong enough to have a second conversation, and then maybe a third. But you have to start with a first. You can even turn to the Internet for help. Then maybe you can talk to a professional. Then maybe you can wake up and start feeling better. But you have to start. Don’t take the easy way out. It’s not easy for the rest of us.
I’m sure all the standard cliches apply, but just know this… Everyone goes through some sort of drama, depression or pain in their lives. The courageous don’t take the chicken way out and work through it.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)