Saturday, March 1, 2014

About Depression and Suicide

I feel the need to write this blog post because these are the words that have been swirling around in my head and I hope I have found enough clarity to put them down properly because it's such an important issue.

Depression and suicide and any form of mental illness really are such complex things and depression and mental illness have varied and many effects on people. And people deal with these things differently too, some sufferers will seek assistance if they need it and are open about their struggles, whereas other will guard themselves and cover it up, and some that are open about it will mask how they are truly feeling in times of great distress. There are many great avenues for sufferers to go down to get help and these are well advertised but in saying that, they are only great if people use them and if they use them when they are feeling desperate and alone and feeling like they are going to harm themselves, and when people are in these moments they become unable to think about what they're doing and can become severely irrational. They won't think about calling telephone call lines and may not even think about calling a friend. And day's like RUOK day are good in theory and good for getting people talking about depression etc to help end the stigma still associated with depression and mental illness but not good if the person being asked won't say that they're not really ok and they really need help. I might ask Barry at work on RUOK day and he responds that he is ok, but they next day after work Barry takes his own life, what happens then??? As I said, days like this are good for getting people talking about these important issues but are they really helping in the way we really need them to?

What we really need is to help sufferers to know all the important things and find a way to help them remember these things when they are desperate and irrational. Things like:

  • They are loved.
  • They matter and it will matter to people if they're not here.
  • That it's important to call someone, call a friend and if they don't get through the first time to keep calling friends until someone is on the other end and someone can come and be with them.
  • Asking for help isn't weak, isn't a bother, isn't a burden.
I don't have to answer as to how we help them to remember these things, I wish I did, I wish I had all the answers as to how to help people with depression and mental illness and people who want to take their own lives, and I wish this as not only a person with compassion and respect and empathy but as someone who loves many people who suffer these things. And I want them to know:

  • You are loved
  • You matter and it will matter if you're not here.
  • Please call me if you need me, at any time, on any day. And if you can't reach me keep trying until you do or call every other person you know until you reach someone.
  • Asking me or anyone else for help doesn't make you weak, isn't a bother and isn't a burden. Not to your friends and not to professional people who are paid to help.
I'm scared for the people I love, our government doesn't do enough to support people with mental health, cutting funding is ridiculous when more is so desperately needed, what they hell are they thinking?

And we need to address these issues at schools, children aren't stupid and these issues have an impact on them too, and they're seeing it and experiencing it either in their lives directly or through other kids lives or n the media, we need to equip them not only to be able to deal with it but also to help ending the stigma associated with these issues. Parents need help addressing these issues and I think schools can help them get that foothold. And I think there's no age that should be excluded, my son's school had rugby league players come and talk about bullying yet my son's class wasn't included, why not? Bullying effects all ages, even kindy kids. There are ways of talking about issues that all kids will be able to grasp the basic issue. The world has changed and whether we like it or not adult issues are effecting our kids, they're no longer shielded from major issues like these like many of us were when we were younger. Kids have to deal with a lot these days and we need to stop acting like they don't know what's going on, because they so do, and if we don't give them the facts and they tools to deal with them then we are doing them a great disservice.

If you're reading this and you know how we can change things, DO THEM and if I can help then let me know. I'm just a regular pleb who knows we need to change things but I don't know how, but I know that we need to fight for the people that need it and for the people that we have lost.