I know, because I lost my father in this way. Only nobody really talked about it, as depression and suicide was that ‘unspeakable’, one of the many reasons my father went so many years without help or treatment. This is why I believe our mission is so important.
Suicide is not an act of shame; it is an act of final desperation of the sufferer, a statement that says I could not find a thing in this world that alleviated the intense pain of my soul. Suicide goes against every act of survival we have programmed inside our body. How can we feel anything but empathy for those that are suffering at such a profound level?
Nobody is responsible for another person’s life. While many may want to blame when a suicide occurs, the reality is the only thing we can blame is society. We live in a place and time where:
- it is forbidden to talk about darkness, the pain of the soul and an individual’s personal hurts and frustrations.
- less than 25% of people (10% in developing countries) are getting help for their depression because of stigma and lack of resources.
- we allow individuals to get chained to trees and left to fast in the hot sun for treatment for depression, as opposed to seeing the individual as a human in need of medical treatment for a brain imbalance that can be treated successfully.
I think one of the greatest things we can do for those we lose to suicide is honor their struggle in a world that does not understand or accept brain disease. By no means am I glamorizing suicide, because there is nothing remotely sensational about death. Great work comes out of those that learn to manage dark places, and the tragic loss of a life through suicide means we won’t ever see that amazing work.
We instead advocate a memorial donation to those we lose to suicide, showing we honor them as people, understand their disease, and want to work to make society a place that is more accepting and loving to all. It helps show others the consequences of untreated depression, and hopefully helps us toward our goal of getting others into treatment and preventing other such tragedies. May we someday live in a world where we all find the strength to choose life, even in our darkest of times.
To honor your loved one that you have lost, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can send you information on depression, honor your loved one on our ‘Wall of Honor,” and continue our work to increase the percentage of people receiving treatment for depression.