The devastation of depression and suicide
We all have heard the devastating news of Robin Williams’ passing. More and more news are coming about him as a person, and about the demons he was facing on daily basis. He suffered from depression, drug addiction, and alcohol addiction.
 
We all remember him as ‘Monk’ from ‘Monk & Mindy’, or a bit wild DJ Adrian Cronauer from ‘Good Morning Vietnam’, or this loveable English teacher John Keating from ‘Dead Poets Society’, or the hilarious yet desperate father from ‘Mrs Doubtfire’…or maybe his awesome voices as ‘Ramon’ and ‘Lovelace’ from ‘Happy Feet’. We remember him as this funny man who was a seriously talented and gifted actor and comedian.  
 
But there was another side to him – a side which we didn’t really know about. He was addicted to cocaine and alcohol; he had been to rehab several times in order to change his life yet something held him back. He also suffered from depression; he had financial worries, and he was about to face bankruptcy. I have read some people commenting how he shouldn’t be depressed because he had everything – wealth, fame, family, talent, great job. If only it would be that simple. Depression doesn’t ask you whether you are rich or poor, famous or unknown, single or a person with a family, employed or unemployed. Depression can hit us all; not even your sock size or favourite colour will make any difference.
 
Depression as a mental illness is a big umbrella; it covers various different types of depression; please check our earlier blog entry for further information and links. Feeling depressed is an awfully lonely place to be. It doesn’t matter how many friends or family members you have around you, it often feels like you are facing the world on your own, and nobody can understand or hear you. Because of this, it is understandable why so many people think of committing a suicide. It is not a coward’s way out; it’s a desperation and feeling of no hope. According to the Mental Health Foundation website “around 4,400 people end their own lives in England each year - that's one death every two hours - and at least 10 times that number attempt suicide”. These are shocking numbers. One death every two hours…let’s just think about that. So, on average, every two hours there is a person somewhere in England who feels so hopeless and helpless that leaving this beautiful planet is the only option. That is very saddening, and something needs to be done.
 
But what can be done to change this? There aren’t any miracle answers; no waving a ‘Harry Potter wand’ will make a sudden difference to these horrific statistics, but there is something you can do. If you feel/know/think that someone you know could potentially suffer from depression, just ask them how they are, and whether they would like to talk. It’s not rocket science. General interest in someone’s wellbeing is often enough. If the person is not interested in talking, offer other kind of support, i.e. accompany the person for a walk, cook a meal together, or go to a cinema. Don’t be afraid; often your presence and showing interest will be enough to help the other person feel somewhat better. But if you are feeling depressed and/or suicidal yourself, talk to a friend, call the Samaritans, and/or contact your GP. It is also worth of finding a counsellor because talking through these unpleasant feelings and thoughts is very rewarding. Understanding and off-loading will help you to feel more relieved. You don’t need to suffer – help is available.
 
It is also worth of remembering that suicide doesn’t only affect those who have passed away; there are still a family and friends who are left behind. These people are often feeling various emotions – sadness, guilt, blame, anger, rage, denial, depressed. Losing someone you love is bad and difficult enough, but when you don’t understand the reasons behind the death, it makes it so much more difficult. If you have lost a loved one through a suicide, I would highly recommend you to seek counselling; it will help you to go through your emotions in a way which will allow you to grief. It is vitally important to be able to go through the bereavement process rather than keep avoiding it.
 
I would like to dedicate this blog entry to Mr Robin Williams’ memory whilst wishing strength and peace for his family. But most of all I would like to dedicate this blog entry for the memory of all those people whose names are not on the headlines, yet they felt that suicide was their only option, and to all of their family members and friends who are trying to come to terms with the loss.
 
Don’t suffer alone; seek help. Life can be beautiful and manageable.

More interesting reading:

Robin Williams and the link between comedy and depression: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-28753326
 
Robin Williams's death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish: http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2014/aug/12/robin-williams-suicide-and-depression-are-not-selfish

Wishing you good mental health and emotional wellbeing,

Eeva