A Very Personal Story

It is with great sadness that I write this post today. In light of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain's recent suicide, I felt compelled to share a very personal story about depression and suicide.

People are always so “shocked” to hear that someone successful, with what seems like the perfect life, would commit suicide. They had it all.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, each year more than 44,965 individuals die by suicide. On average, that means 123 people each day. Hanging and firearms are the most common means for suicide.  About 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death. Depression is the top risk factor, but there are various other mental health disorders that can contribute to suicide, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Here is a good article on The Six Reasons People Attempt Suicide.

Dr. Natalie Azar, NBC News Contributor, says this about the subject:

  • Suicide is up 30% since 1999. Depression is the #1 cause and half of the people who have committed suicide were never diagnosed with any type of mental illness.
  • Other things that can contribute to suicide are relationship stress, financial burdens, substance abuse, heath issues and a loss of a job.
  • White men between the ages of 45-65 are of greatest danger.
  •  56% of Americans with mental illness do not receive treatment and may not know they are suffering from mental illness.
  • It is OK to ask someone if they have ever thought of hurting themselves and to listen without judgment.
  • According to experts it is not one defining moment that sends people over the edge, but it is many day-to-day things that attribute to the suicide.

The truth is, we can all benefit from honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide, because just one conversation can change a life.

I have decided to share my story of mental illness in the hopes of possibly helping someone who may be struggling.  I have suffered from depression for most of my life.  I was not officially diagnosed until my early 20s.  I had to try many different types of antidepressants before I found one that seemed to work for me. Don't be afraid to tell your doctor that your antidepressant is not working. Keep trying until you find one that makes you feel better.  I promise you there is hope.

My mother suffered from depression for most of her life and was never treated for it. It saddens me to know her life could have been so much better had she gotten the help she needed. My youngest brother suffers from Schizophrenia and has most of his life. He finally found the right doctors and has been doing really well for years. Depression can run in families, and certainly does in mine.

I understand Kate Spade was hesitant about getting help as to not harm her “happy” brand.  I certainly understand this as a business owner myself. The fear of losing clients that might find out your secret. It is something that I have hidden most of my life.  Who wants to tell people they suffer from depression?  That sometimes they are sad, very sad. Nobody wants to be around a Debbie downer.  Not until the last few years have I realized that many, many, people suffer from some sort of depression or mental illness.  It's not anything to be ashamed of, ever!  I am no longer hiding behind my illness.

I won't lie to you, there are stretches of time when I still get depressed.  I just went thru one recently.  It can be very scary and lonely, but I know it is temporary and I soldier on. 

For people who have never suffered from depression, it is very hard to understand and relate to. I have heard more than once, “pick yourself up by your bootstraps,” “get over it,” “buck up”.  Little do they know it is sometimes impossible without getting help. Please try and be more sympathetic. No one I know WANTS to be depressed. The struggle is real. 

Luckily, I have never been so low as to want to end my life.  After being diagnosed with breast cancer and receiving the scare of a lifetime, I have found a certain level of peace, even with my depression.  I am grateful for that.

My best friend committed suicide more than twenty years ago after struggling with depression for years. I miss her every day. A few weeks ago, a dear family member took his life. We had no idea he was suffering so deeply. I wish he had talked to just one person.

Oftentimes, people who are depressed or are suffering some sort of mental illness and have not been treated, tend to medicate with alcohol.  If you notice someone drinking more than usual, talk with them.  Be alert and compassionate.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please forward the information below.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis.  1-800-273-8255.  If you feel uncomfortable talking over the phone you can text “NAMI” to 741741.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis.  1-800-273-8255.  If you feel uncomfortable talking over the phone you can text “NAMI” to 741741.

Love and Peace to you all.