Education is Key

Despite its title, this post isn’t about the Republicans’ plan merging the Department of Labor with the Department of Education. I can address that another time.

Today, I ask people to educate themselves about suicide and depression. If that’s a triggering topic for you, please stop reading now.

In recent weeks, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. Here in my corner of northeastern New Jersey, a popular local business owner and coach is believed to have committed suicide a couple of days ago.

I didn’t know the man, but several of my coworkers did. At work, I heard them say, “Suicide is so selfish. Why didn’t he think about those that he left behind?”

Those comments indicate just how little people know about depression. That judgmental attitude is why people with mental health issues don’t speak openly about it. Who wants to be judged for something that is a complex medical problem?

I don’t know as much as I should about depression, how it’s officially diagnosed, and its treatment options. But I’ve learned that someone who has a form of clinical depression isn’t just “feeling blue.”

Depression makes everyday decisions and activities much harder. Experts advise those dealing with depression to avoid decisions like getting married, getting divorced, or changing jobs until after they’re feeling better.

Too often, gun advocates and the media state that murderers shooting up schools, movie theaters, or concerts are mentally ill. Experts on mental illness say the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence.

The people who commit mass murders usually aren’t mentally ill, although many have had a history of domestic violence and/or white supremacist beliefs. The tendency to lump these people into a mentally ill category demonizes those who actually have a mental health condition. That makes those with mental illnesses even less likely to seek treatment.

The gun nut/media conflating of these two groups is criminally negligent, but I digress.

I’ll close with this. Please, educate yourself about what mental illness really is, what its symptoms are, and how to be better advocates and supporters for your loved ones who deal with mental health problems.

If you’re in need of assistance, please reach out for help.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 2/4/365 at 1-800-273-8255.

Another resource is the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

One thought on “Education is Key

  1. Thank you, Ruth, for this important and timely post. Unless someone has personally dealt with depression, it is so very difficult to explain to another person who has never dealt with a mental illness. Unfortunately, on the one hand you have people saying, “Call for help, don’t be afraid to come forward”. On the other hand you have people blaming any act of gun violence or other mass attacks as something perpetrated by the mentally ill. Gee, not an incentive to come forward. You were right on target with your message.

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