People aren’t always aware of other’s feelings. This leads to bullying, misunderstandings, fights and the worst thing, suicide. Depression is a neglected illness it’s almost invisible unlike a broken leg. Take me for instance, I suffer from depression, and some people close to me, didn’t believe I was depressed which lead to fighting and a general bad time for everyone involved. A simple “cheer up pal” helps but isn’t the best way to approach the problem. The thing I am asking people to do, is reach out to others. The quiet person in the back of the room may have their nose in a book all the time, but that doesn’t mean they are weird or they don’t want friends. Not to say all quiet people are depressed, I speak from personal experience. Some signs of depression are : loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, feelings of shame, guilt or worthlessness, difficulty sleeping or sleeping excessively, experiencing sadness, unhappiness and crying spells. (King & Vidourek, 2012) These are just some of the warning signs of depression. Severe depression can lead into suicide, some suicidal warning signs are, changes in school performance, loss of energy, morbid ideation, withdrawn/isolated, changes in behavior, giving away cherished possessions and being depressed. (King & Vidourek, 2012) If you see these signs, talk to the person while trying to get additional help from others.
People who are depressed may not realize it. For the longest time I thought that’s how life was, bleak and not worth participating in. So I didn’t. I played games. It was my escape from all my bad thoughts and led me to worlds where I could do anything and be anyone. There are others though who feel similarly. In a survey of 235,067 adults, 9.0% met the criteria for current depression, 3.4% of those were considered majorly depressed between the years 2006 – 2008.(CDC) The percentage may be small but its still twenty – one thousand people. Although everyone can and probably will be depressed at one point in their life, for some it’s genetic. Again me for example, my brain chemistry is off. My brain doesn’t produce the right hormones properly like serotonin. It’s the same with my father, my grandmother and further back.
“A PET scan can compare brain activity during periods of depression (left) with normal brain activity (right). An increase of blue and green colors, along with decreased white and yellow areas, shows decreased brain activity due to depression.”(Mayo) The brain has trouble functioning when we are depressed.
People have started calling it “the Suicide Epidemic”. According to Dokoupil, “Throughout the developed world, for example self-harm is now the leading cause of death for people 15-49 surpassing all cancers and heart disease.”(Dokoupil, 2013) This is terrible. A suicide creates a negative ripple in a community. Influencing those who didn’t know them that well or at all even to some degree. I can’t imagine what it must be like for a family member to have taken their own life. We need to be able to help these people in some way shape or form. Medication, therapy, interventions, even just spending time with the person, trying to have fun will help.
A girl in Colorado had been mutual friends of people that had killed themselves. One night she downed a small bottle of whiskey and sent some troubling texts and snapchats saying, “I’m sorry it had to be me.” Though they looked for her, tried to calling and texting her. They found her body in the morning, she had shot herself. Three days later a boy who may have known the girl killed himself, nine days later and another classmate killed himself. A total of five students committed suicide from that school in the span of about eight months.(Kutner, 2016) The fact that these kids, having never experienced the world or discovered a passion to keep them going is a solemn one. At some point if someone could have stepped in and potentially saving one or more of them if they had acted. If given the chance to save someone I’m sure everyone would.
Suicide is not limited to teens and young people, men in particular are at risk. According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Psychology, “Males are four times more likely to die from suicide than females.”(Hoffman,2006) The way we view males in our society is a toxic one. We expect men to be dominant, courageous and strong, like “men”. This is in itself is now a fallacy. This is an old and now harmful way of teaching and looking at one’s self. In the past when we had natural predators, we needed strong people , typically men, to hunt, gather and defend. But in modern times we can kill people with the pull of a trigger. Though there are physically demanding jobs, generally the role of men has changed from hunter gatherers to more passive jobs like office work and factory lines. That sort of strength is not nearly as all encompassing as it once was and now our view point needs to change.
So what can we do? We can more more interactive and inclusive. By including someone you show that you want to spend time with them and to them might mean that they are worth something to someone. Feeling socially connected to others is one such protective factor that is directly associated with positive emotional health. (King & Vidourek, 2012) Communication is another big one. We have a glorious piece of tech, the internet, which keeps everyone connected, so although we may not see the person on the other side, being polite is a good habit and being respectful to each other is great too. School is an important place where people need to be aware. There can be programs to raise awareness for signs of mental illnesses for students and staff, teaching coping strategies in case they are dealing with something. In addition, each school could have a therapist, or someone safe to talk to. We all need to be aware of more observant including the people we may not otherwise pay attention too.
But some people may question whether depression a serious mental illness. It affects everyone at some point to varying degrees. So it is serious. Everyone deserves to be happy in life, it say so in the Declaration of Independence. It is one of the three unalienable rights. So how can we ignore our fellow man who cannot live happily? We don’t let him suffer, we reach out and do our best to help him onto his feet so he can live for himself.
The next time your friend says something along the lines of “I don’t feel up to it.” Maybe ask why politely or tell them that you enjoy spending time with them. If a stranger looks sad one day, tell them a joke or compliment them on something. It doesn’t hurt you to say something nice to somebody and even this could save someone’s life.
If you are depressed there are people that can and will talk to you. There are hotlines to call if you are feeling suicidal. Here is one, it is available all hours of the day.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Dokoupil, Tony (5.22.13) “The Suicide Epidemic” Retrieved on: 8.6.18 from http://sks.sirs.com/webapp/article?artno=0000353849&type=ART
This article talks about how a researcher lost his father and how we need to change things in our society.
“PET scan of the brain for depression” Retrieved on: 8.7.18 from
This is a Picture of a depressed person’s brain versus a non-depressed person.
“Current Depression Among Adults–United States, 2006 and 2008” Retrieved on: 8.6.18 from
This article talks about the rates of depression and who is depressed in our society.
Kutner, Max (10.24.16) “Teen Suicide Is Contagious, and the Problem May Be Worse Than We Thought” Retrieved on: 8.6.18 from
Kids can influence each other even if they haven’t met in person according to this article
King, Keith A. and Vidourek, Rebecca A. (November 2012) “Teen Depression and Suicide: Effective Prevention and Intervention Strategies” Retrieved on: 8.6.18 from http://sks.sirs.com/webapp/article?artno=0000349169&type=ART
One of our responsibilities is to try and help one another and this article talks about the signs and strategies to prevent it.
Hoffman, John (2006) “suicide” Retrieved on: 8.6.18 from https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/cupsoc/suicide/0
This article talks about the societal causes of suicide and how people interact about it.