I've seen so much of an outpouring of love, support and prayer for Pastor Rick Warren and his family on social media sites after his son's tragic suicide over the weekend. I am grateful so many people are praying and supporting his family at this tragic time. However it got me to thinking - there are so many "invisible" people out there. I found these statistics in a quick Google search:
* The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that globally there are at least 20 suicide attempts for every success, meaning that there are least 20m, yes, 20million, attempted suicides every year - and rising.
* Almost 32,000 people commit suicide annually in the United States.
* Suicide ranks #11 as a cause of death in the U.S. (Homicide, by comparison, is #14). More people kill themselves than kill each other.
*The suicide rate for all ages combined is 10.7 per 100,000 people.
* Suicide, on average, claims the life of one person every 18 minutes.
* Men complete suicide 4.1 times more often than women. But women attempt suicide three times more often than men.
* In the U.S., there are an estimated 730,000 suicide attempts each year.
* The suicide rate among young people has tripled since the 1950s. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among teenagers.
* Suicide is not an inheritable trait. However, the risk of suicide may be higher for family members.
I plead with you - if you, or someone you know suffers with depression/mental illness/suicidal thoughts - SEEK HELP.
~ You are NOT alone even though it may feel like you are completely alone.
~ You have people who CARE ABOUT YOU even though you may not feel like it.
~ You are DEEPLY LOVED even though you may not feel like it.
Please, reach out to someone around you or call this hotline
I've been there - there is help available and there is HOPE when everything feels hopeless.
I am reposting this blog from October of last year because the message is worth repeating...
Why is it in our society that admitting to having depression, anxiety, eating disorder - or any such mental health issue - seems a bit like coming out of the closet? According to the World Health Association: "Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment." I read this statistic and wondered why people don't receive the treatment they need. I honestly believe that one reason is that people hide. There is a certain stigma that our society attaches to these such problems. If someone has cancer or heart disease they don't hide it, they tell people, they ask for help, they aren't blamed or seen as weak or as less of a person or a bad Christian because of their illness.
Today marks the end of Mental Health Awareness Week. I didn't even know it was this week until Thursday. I haven't exactly hidden my struggles. I have been fairly open. But, I have never come right out and said it -
I suffer with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder.
I've opened up to some people about it and in some cases received great support. In other cases I received strange looks and comments such as, "You just need more Jesus." or "You just need to CHOOSE to have a different attitude." Now, I am first and foremost a Christian. I believe in the power of prayer and I believe that God can heal. But, just take a quick read in the book of Psalms. If David were alive today he would probably be diagnosed with clinical depression. He dealt with a lot of emotions. Psalm 55: 2 "hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught." Psalm 8:1 "Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble." Psalm 13:1-2 "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" Yes, it is David who said these things - David who was also called a man after God's own heart. A great book that I would HIGHLY recommend reading is The Cry of the Soul: How Our Emotions Reveal Our Deepest Questions About God by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman
It being Mental Health Awareness Week in addition to a very disturbing article on cnn.com yesterday are what led me to write this post. The link to the article is here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/12/world/americas/canada-teen-bullying/index.html?hpt=hp_c1 The young lady in this article dealt with bullying, which is another issue, but often, as in this case led to major anxiety, depression and panic disorder. She left a chilling youtube video and her body was later found - she committed suicide.
All of this has got me to thinking. I'm doing fairly well right now. I am seeing a counselor and take medication as needed. But it bothers me that I have been somewhat "forced" into hiding because of societal stigmas and some thoughtless reactions from well-meaning people. I want to "come out" because I think it is essential that others know if they are suffering they do not need to suffer in silence. I want anyone reading this to know that you are not alone... I am here. If you don't want to talk to me, that's fine, but talk to someone. I want you to know that you don't have to suffer in silence. Please don't wait until it's too late. Don't stuff those feelings inside and keep them to yourself. First and foremost reach out to God - He is ALWAYS there. But, don't be afraid to reach out to your friends. "Come out of the closet" with me - be bold, be brave. It is not a sign of weakness to get counseling. There are a lot of great counseling services out there. Don't allow the stigma that society puts on mental health issues keep you from getting help. It doesn't mean you are weak, it doesn't make you less of a person, it doesn't make you a bad Christian, IT IS OK to NOT be OK!