I never cease to be bewildered by how vile and evil some people are in this world. I never cease asking myself how someone’s internal makeup can be so deranged that they hurt a child when my own instinct is to protect them so fiercely.
I never cease to be absolutely gutted that another human being has had to endure so much pain in their life through no fault of their own. I never cease to be amazed and inspired by the courage that survivors of abuse show when they come forward and tell their story.
This is what keeps me doing what I do. I am honoured to stand beside these people as they tell their story. They do so often to make things better for others — so that no other child has to go through the hell that they have been through.
Good and evil exist in this world. Strength and courage exist right along with horror and sadness. Not many things demonstrate that more than knowing what survivors have been through, and seeing them go on despite it.
As it turns out, Klawes was just one of dozens of NMU students, if not more, who have been told over the years that they could face disciplinary action for discussing their suicidal thoughts, according to an investigation and press release just published by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The ostensible goal of the policy is to “protect” students from other students’ suicidal thoughts and actions. But this policy, in addition to violating students’ free-speech rights, could also be doing serious harm to vulnerable students at NMU, according to mental-health experts.
This seems like a really damaging idea. I wonder if it came about as a result of someone misinterpreting some very real concerns about discussing the details of a suicide in the media, and the risk of it creating a contagion. But, they are really misunderstanding that practice. Forcing students who may be having suicidal thoughts and feelings to isolate themselves is not going to help.
Let’s hope someone figures this out and changes this policy.
Sometimes I wish I could just remember everything. I wish I could rip off the bandaid and remember all the details and just get it over with. My therapist says that might come over time, or it might never happen. He says I need to keep doing the work, either way. Sometimes I get so tired of it, though. It feels like the work will never end, and I might not even get better.
It helps to know other people go through it and do get better, though.
There is no better reason to tell your story, if you’re able. So that others can know that they are not alone, and they can get better.
“Depression also often comes with a sense of hopelessness, or a belief that things won’t change no matter what you do, which doesn’t help when it comes to deciding to get treatment, Clark says. But unfortunately, not getting care can make things even worse. “This hopelessness, if left unchecked, can feed a vicious cycle of shame, guilt, and inertia that worsen symptoms over time,” Clark says.”
This is why stigma against getting help, and thinking that needing help is a sign of weakness os doubly bad. Depression is already working actively against getting help, it’s part of the disease. Overcoming that requires support, not stigma.
I’ve never forgotten the lesson my math teacher taught me: that we need to learn how to talk about suicide. Here are a few numbers he probably didn’t know, but should: suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and claims more than 41,000 lives every year. I was not the only kid who lost a parent. My mom was not the only person who lost a spouse. And for each person who dies by suicide it is estimated that 25 more have made an attempt. Hundreds of thousands of children and teens and adults have lived through suicide attempts and suicide loss. One in five adults and one in five teens in the U.S. will experience a mental health issue in any given year. I would tell my teacher to do the math — you talk to people every day who have lived through depression or suicide or both. Stop shaming us and start understanding us. It’s time to become aware.
It’s time to become aware. It’s well past that time, and well past the time when we figure out how to talk about suicide. That’s not a simple thing, I know, but it affects way more people than the things we are figuring out how to talk about.
“The reality is that my life was infected with the burden of depression and anxiety, and the only places I could find reliable information from were not churches in my local area. Why? Because mental illness wasn’t really talked about. I felt as if all the “Christian” resources were outdated and really didn’t address the fact that taking medication was okay in the eyes of God. There really wasn’t much information at all. It was as if all the answers I was finding were suggesting that I just needed more faith. Seriously?”
Has it changed that much? For that matter, is the “solution” provided to many people all that different? Isn’t “Have more faith”, the religious equivalent to “just get over it”, or “your life isn’t that bad”. All of these completely miss the point of depression. You don’t snap yourself out of a disease.
Whether or not you have a history of mental illness, talk to your children. Let them know that, while feelings like hopelessness, ennui, and irrational anger are normal in small doses, if they feel that way a lot of the time, they can get help. Let them know they never have to be ashamed of a disease.
Let them know depression is the leading cause of disability for our entire planet, and it’s real, and it’s important to ask for help, to ask you for help, and that you will always help them.
Learn the warning signs for depression and suicide, and talk to your kids. Talk to them before you have to talk to them. And most importantly of all, listen.
Yes, children commit suicide too, and just like we do with adults, we need to recognize kids who are dealing with mental health issues, get them help, and make sure they know help is available.
Online groomers rarely pose as children and can succeed in persuading a child to meet in less than half an hour, according to researchers probing the way in which sexual predators target victims online.
Clearly, we aren’t doing enough to teach kids about online safety if this is true. This information came from a UK study, but I’m not sure it would be much different in the US, or anywhere else. Don’t just assume your kids would know better. Know what they’re doing online and talk to them about it.
Therein lies the great catch 22: The burden of keeping it all inside is cumbersome, but so is sharing the true extent of your illness to extended family members, people you hooked up with one and a half times, your sister’s husband’s brother’s daughter, even actual friends. Social media has made it easy to keep my illness a secret—how could I be depressed if I’m chilling in a pool drinking rosé? Fraternizing with Rick Ross? Sharing Bloody Marys with a pug? I worry about showing a fuller, truer chronicle of my life, one that includes crying faces side-by-side with Funyun binges, because I don’t want to push people away.
This is a fear common among many people with mental illness—especially as they navigate social media’s impossibly cheery landscape.
This is a difficult thing for many. I will admit that even I struggle with this, and much of my real mental health issues are in my past. Still, in between some of the cool stuff that I get to see because of my job, and the cool places I get to go, how much do I also tell people about the loneliness of being on the road so much, or the struggle of being away from family and friends who are also struggling wishing I could be there to support them. That’s not as much fun, and doesn’t really make my life look so fantastic, but it’s real. It’s part of it. If I want to truly stay in touch with the people I claim to want to stay in touch with through social media, I need to be willing to show that too. And if I truly want to advocate for those struggling with mental health issues, don’t I want them to know they are not alone in their struggle, that everyone on Facebook isn’t living some fantastic, perfect, life without problems?
Just maybe not “everyone” needs that many details though, so I struggle along, trying to figure out how to share, and still keep some privacy for myself.
How do you do it?
While some find it easy to talk about mental health issues, for many men, it can still be difficult.
Too often they are “toughing it out,” keeping their feelings to themselves. That means they are suffering in silence — something Australian charity organisation Movember has decided to point out in a new campaign.
Its heartbreakingly powerful video, “Suicide notes talk too late,” gets right to the core of the issue. In the video, we hear from a number of men who have written suicide notes, but who are still here today — all thanks to simply talking about how they’re feeling.
This is touching, I’m glad these guys are still here to tell their stories. Please watch, and talk to someone if you need help.