This post is part of a month-long series on suicide and depression, in honor of the Fiorella family, who lost their son Lucas, to suicide this year.
I’ve suffered from depression for as long as I can remember. I always thought it was a normal way to be. As a child, I can’t remember anyone speaking about it. As an adult, it’s still a topic that is whispered about, spoken behind a hand, or not spoken about at all.
I have varying degrees of depression – some episodes are more intense than others. Most times, I can feel it coming on and I take steps to work my way through it. Sometimes, it comes out of the blue. Those times are the hardest.
I have attempted suicide twice; once when I was 11 or 12 and sometime in my teens. The thing that I remember the most of that time was that I felt so alone, so isolated. I wasn’t sleeping, eating, or taking care of myself. I stopped caring — I had given up. I couldn’t talk about any of this with anyone. I couldn’t ask for help. In my mind, there was no point. I wasn’t worth the trouble.
I like to think of myself as the strong one – the one who is always there for others offering an ear or help. I’ve learned that even the strong ones need to lean on others at times. Depression is serious business – it doesn’t matter if you think you’re strong or not. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of strength. A sign that maybe there is a way out of the darkness.
I know I’m not good at asking for help. How many other people who suffer from depression don’t ask because they don’t know how, they’re too afraid, or they just don’t feel like they’re worth it? How many don’t ask because they’re afraid of being judged or made fun of? There is a huge stigma attached to mental illness, and it’s time that changed.
No one knows the cause of depression – it can be situational or clinical. It can occur in people of all ages, from young children to the elderly. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens.
Did you know…
- 1 in 8 teens suffer from depression. It can be the cheerleader, the music student or the boy/girl next door.
- Teens feel the stigma of depression as much as or more than adults due to the intense peer pressure they have to deal with. And sometimes, they just don’t feel they can confide in anyone — even their best friend.
- Girls attempt suicide more than boys, however, boys are more successful in their attempts.
- Surveys have shown that 50% of college students report feeling so depressed that they have trouble functioning. They are exposed to many stressors that can lead them to develop depression or other mental illnesses. Moving away from friends and family, taking care of themselves for the first time, having to make new friends, and being academically challenged can be overwhelming.
According to Erika’s Lighthouse (www.erikaslighthouse.org), early identification and intervention can help young people get the help they need to lead healthy, happy and productive lives. They believe that “Teen Depression Education is Suicide Prevention.”
In this video from Erika’s Lighthouse, real teenagers discuss depression; its feeling, its effects, and where to seek help.
If you’re depressed or are feeling suicidal, please get help. Talk to your parents, friend, school counselor, clergy person, someone. You are #notalone in this. There is help…there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If you’re in crisis:
In the U.S., call the Nineline.org hotline for children and teens at 1-800-999-9999. It’s free, confidential, and available from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Eastern Time, seven days a week.
In Canada, call the KidsHelpPhone.ca helpline at 1-800-668-6868.
In the UK, call the Childline.org.uk helpline for children and teens at 0800 1111.
In Australia, call the Lifeline.org.aus 24-hour helpline at 13 11 14.
Resources for further reading on teen depression and suicide:
- Erika’s Lighthouse
- Helpguide.org – Teenagers Guide to Depression
- Kids Health – Talking about Suicide
- PBS – Take One Step – Depression out of the Shadows