by Connie Brase, MAf
In the last article, there was a discussion about symptoms of depression and how some drugs and alcohol are depressants and tend to make those "down" feelings more exaggerated. But we feel "down": so what? We'll get over it with a little time and effort. Just got to keep going. For short term depression, with symptoms lasting less than two weeks, that's an ok attitude. But if they last longer than that, or if they are getting increasingly worse, help is needed. That help might be a medical visit, or it might start with your involvement and willingness to bring up your concerns with the one who seems to be fighting depression.
Why should we begin to worry? It's just "the Blues"! But statistics show that 90% of people who die by suicide have the following risk factors: suffering from depression or other mental disorder and/ or substance abuse disorder. That large of a percentage is something to take notice of! And suicide was the 7th leading cause of death for males in 2007, according to National Institute of Mental Health. (Their website is an excellent resource for more information). So when someone you know, or if you notice those symptoms in yourself, it's worth the time and effort to visit about those feelings.
One of the myths of suicide is the fear that if we talk about it, it will push them into doing it. Actually the fact is that if you're concerned enough and open enough to ask, that will give the other person the opportunity to talk. Most people feel they will shock the one they're talking to if they bring it up. But if you bring it up, that shows you're willing to discuss the subject. Silence is a form of isolation, and when we feel totally alone, the hopelessness of our situation magnifies, thus making us feel even more helpless. However, don't let them catch you in a "secret pact". Many will ask that you don't tell anyone else. I'll ask you this: How will you feel if that person attempts a suicide, or even worse completes it, and you knew and didn't tell? To put it bluntly, do you want a mad friend or a dead one?
So you've opened the subject, and the conversation is getting out of your comfort zone. What do you do then? Ask for help. Ask a friend to join you until professional help can arrive. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications. Don't leave them alone; you need to stay with them until professional help is available. Remember they already feel alone, and your leaving might be seen as a betrayal and another addition to their despair. This is just a small amount of information on an uncomfortable topic. But remember that the last article also talked about the drought and its influence on depression. With that uncontrollable event still in our lives, please connect the seriousness of depression and how it is a major factor in suicide. If you would like a presentation for a local organization with more information on suicide myths and facts, please contact me. Southeast Health Group provides these presentations as a community partnership program free of charge.
Here's to your (and your friend's) Mental Wellness!
Call Southeast Health Group at 800.511.5446 for information or to schedule an appointment.