After the recent and untimely death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, the issue of mental illness and suicide in America has come back to light.
Mental health conditions are more common than some people choose to believe. It’s become a taboo subject that is seen as negative or frowned upon, but it shouldn’t be.
When it comes to mental illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.– 43.8 million or 18.5%– experiences mental illness in a given year and 1 in 5 youth ages 13-18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children ages 8-15, the estimate is 13%, according to nami.org.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Each year, 44,193 Americans die by suicide and there are 121 suicides per day, according to afsp.org.
This issue is more serious than people realize. We need to stop tiptoeing around this problem and speak about it for what it is– a common and dangerous illness.
There is a huge misconception about mental illness, especially suicide. Some people believe that people who attempt or commit suicide are cowards, pathetic or just gave up on their life out of nowhere.
Well, I am here to tell you that it is not that simple.
As someone who has personally experienced depression, I get riled up when I hear this kind of rhetoric. Suicide is not something that just pops up out of the blue. Neither is depression.
These things run deep and occur over time. It is a buildup that affects every single part of a person’s life. The individual that was once whole is no more.
Depression is a silent demon that takes hold of one’s existence, darkens every part of the mind and weighs heavily on the soul. It’s not visible on the outside and neither are thoughts of suicide. You would think the person suffering would reach out, but they won’t. It’s much easier said than done.
People in this predicament feel as if they are a burden to someone if they reveal what is going on with them and they don’t want anyone to feel bad for them. Sometimes, they feel like their life is not their own and that it won’t get any better from this point forward.
Granted, this is not a concrete path that each person suffering from a mental illness goes through. However, this course is similar for those affected by a mental condition and going through this is not easy. Suicide and mental illness are complex issues that take time to resolve.
So I urge people who may not understand that it is okay but understand this– try seeing things from their perspective. It is frustrating to be on the other side of things and not comprehend why someone could let something overpower their lives, but I assure you it is much more complicated than that.
Please, be patient. If you know or suspect someone that may be suffering from a mental illness, reach out. Do your research, support them and do everything you can to help. In your eyes it may not seem like much, but in theirs, it means the world and more. Don’t give up on them because they need someone who cares enough to see their pain and help get them through it. This is literally what could make the difference between life and death. It does not hurt to try.