The internet will surely be on fire today with discussions on depression after the shocking and beyond tragic death of Robin Williams. It feels strange to mourn the death of someone we never met in person, but who was with so many of us from the very beginning of our childhood. One of the first shows I remember watching as a kid was Mork & Mindy. Robin was one of those actors who could make just anyone laugh, whether in a child's cartoon or with one of his raunchy stand-up comedy bits.
I feel an inherent need to address the disease on a personal level. I've touched the subjects of suicide and depression in several of my books. In What I've Done, the book starts with Lily's attempted suicide. In Adam's List, Jewels is battling with depression, though not well (using "booze and sarcasm"). This was not my way of capitalizing on a scary disease, it was my way of putting real life out there as I've battled with depression on and off for decades.
I recently saw a friend post something online that seemed to be a subtle cry for help. I think most people took the post as either sarcasm or some kind of inside thing, and ignored it. I honestly had to look twice before it rang danger bells. Another friend emailed me, asking if we say something about the post. In the end we both decided that we'd rather do something about it than sit on our hands and discover our friend had committed suicide in the night. While I was talking online to the friend in pain, waiting for their family to check in on them in person, they mentioned I was "the only one who cared" because no one else had said anything. I told them that was total crap and most likely his friends and family weren't online at the time. But it really made me think. We've become so dependent on social media that we have nearly forgotten how to interact in real life. This friend was sitting in their dark tunnel, reaching out to anyone who may have been online, when the people who cared the most about them were probably away from their phones and computers, oblivious to the cry for help.
Life is hard. Everyone constantly has to deal with change and death and obstacles and disappointments and failure. It's a never-ending roller-coaster of emotions, and we're just expected to swallow them and carry on. If someone you know seems a little "off" and you're not sure just how much they're hurting, REACH OUT TO THEM. Let them know you care. Even if it's a complete stranger on the internet. You never know who's hurting and secretly hiding their pain.
For more information on the warning signs, or what you should do if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK.