It’s all over social and mainstream media: Robin Williams lost his battle with mental illness this week by taking his own life. From the lunch table to conference meetings to online encounters, the loss of one of the world’s greatest comedians is a main topic of conversation. Far too many see only the suicide, though, and not the root cause: depression.
If you are feeling suicidal, we ask that you READ THIS BEFORE TAKING ANY ACTION.
Depression kills, and suicide is what it looks like when that happens. Suicide is a crippling, traumatizing event for all it touches, but it doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It is the symptom of a disease capable of isolating you so severely and completely that your very connection to life itself is in risk of being severed. It is the result of clinical depression, and contrary to the belief of many, depression is not a “phase” or sign of weakness. It’s as real an illness as cancer, but the difference is that those suffering from cancer often have the full support, love and understanding of family, friends and medical professionals, whereas many of those dealing with depression are stigmatized, told to get over it or ignored.
Clinical depression is so much more than the “blues” or “just feeling down.” While those are unpleasant in and of themselves, depression is a deep-seated sense of hopelessness, desolation, guilt and pain that is so raw and tangible, it can be felt in every fiber of your being. To those who don’t understand, it can appear as a “pity party” or laziness, but the truth is, depression saps you of vital energy. Living requires energy; facing every day requires energy. Simply being alive takes energy, and it’s a limited resource. As depression progresses, you become drained of life itself, and that’s when the suicidal thoughts start. You start pouring all of your (non-existant) energy into not killing yourself until you literally have nothing left. At a certain point, you’ve given all you can give, and just like untreated cancer, your disease will kill you.
Everyone is talking about suicide, but it’s time to address the cause: depression. It’s a life-threatening disease that requires treatment, support and assistance to survive, and the earlier treatment starts, the more likely it is to succeed. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, it is never too late to seek help. If you’re worried about someone, reach out. If you have concerns, share them with a professional. If you can do nothing else, simply be silent support. You never know whose life you’re saving.
If you or someone you know is in imminent threat of harming themselves or another individual, do not wait. It is a medical emergency. Dial 911 immediately and seek professional assistance.