This has been heavy on my heart and I just have to talk about it today. First of all, people go through all sorts of unimaginable things in this life. Depression is real. There is so much suffering and pain that sometimes the heart can’t bear. I had a cousin who took his own life. The last time I saw him was during my Mum’s burial. He seemed happy. He was constantly teasing my Grandma and always wanted to make her laugh, just to cheer her up. He never left her side and he seemed ok. It wasn’t until after his death that I heard what happened. I was told that he used to take drugs. One day when he did, his immediate family scolded him. He got upset and went to a river and jumped. They didn’t know until after three days when his body was found.
Then to talk about this past few days, it’s been crazy. The suicide news just kept coming and it is quite overwhelming. Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and then a woman in Lagos (and probably a few more that we didn’t hear about). My mind kept bouncing here and there and I couldn’t stop thinking.
We all operate from different levels of strength and sometimes it’s unfair to judge others based on how they handled their situation. We imagine how we would have handled it if it were us and we blame people for being too “weak” or “stupid” to have acted differently than how we think we would have.
The truth is, we can never know if we’d respond or react differently than another person, to the same situation except if we face the exact situation ourselves with the same magnitude and same state of mind, circumstances, and options that were presented before that person.
No one ever plans for depression to eat them up. Nobody who committed suicide planned to take their lives right from the knowledge of their existence. The people that committed suicide never wanted to die from suicide. It wasn’t a master plan.
A person doesn’t commit suicide “because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors.” -David Foster Wallace.
When I read that a woman jumped off the Lagos 3rd Mainland Bridge yesterday evening, my heart broke. All I could do was imagine what really made her do that. Was she “jazzed”? Did someone betray or disappoint her? Did she find out she had an incurable disease? Where some people after her? Did she do something that she felt very guilty and ashamed of?
All these questions left me even more broken because I felt that whatever the reason was, maybe, just maybe the suicide could have been prevented.
“You would think the universal nature of struggle would make it easier for all of us to ask for help, but in a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, there can still be so much shame around reaching out, especially if we’re not raised to understand the irreducible nature of human need.” – Brene Brown
Some people don’t know they need help. Some don’t think they need help. Some know that they need help but they are too ashamed to ask. Some people know they need help but don’t know where to get it from. There are people who go to the wrong people and places for help.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has a struggle. If we really listen and pay attention, most of these stories will bring us to our knees. Let’s not take anyone’s story for granted and let’s stop with the judgments.
Everyone has a story behind them. Something or someone that made them the way they are now. Think about that before you judge someone.
I am not a psychologist but I am human. I am human enough to believe that we all can help each other and we need each other. Every one has his/her time of need. The world is made up of “those who need help” and “those who offer help”. But, the truth is that we are both. This truth joins us together as humans.
Here are 5 suggestions (first aid measures) you can try to help someone who needs to recover from depression and possibly, suicidal thoughts:
- Listen: Listen carefully, suspend all judgments, make eye contact and care deeply. “I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it’s given from the heart. When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they’re saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it.” -Rachel Naomi Remen
- Remind them they won’t always feel this way: Try and make them understand that if they could hold on just a bit longer, they could still have hope and believe again. Let them know that you understand it’s difficult, but you also believe it could be better.
- Tell them how strong they are: Remind them of times in their lives when they were incredibly strong and brave. Remind them of their courage and past victories. Boost their ego and confidence. Reassure them that they can pull through this as well.
- Encourage them to seek help: Encourage them to seek help from maybe a therapist, support group or even someone they trust. They are likely to feel better when they meet people who share similar stories and who they can vent to. They will feel better knowing they are not alone.
- Make them smile and laugh if possible: A joyful heart is good medicine. Laughter makes burden seem light and it helps fear and panic to disappear. Humor helps us heal from a number of things. Laughter is one of the best gifts you could give someone who is down.
Just a simple word, a smile, your time or a helping hand could really go a long way. It could go as far as saving someone’s life. It could heal somebody’s depression and give them hope. Let’s not hesitate to be there and to help in any way we can. Let’s also try to reach out for help when we need it.
If you need help please call The National Suicide Preventive Lifelines +234 806 210 6493 or +234 809 210 6493. If you live in Lagos, call +234 805 882 0777 or +234 903 000 0741.
For International help, visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) here.
Just in case, you might want to read The only person you can never get away from and how gratitude is a life saver more than you can imagine.
What do you think about this whole depression/suicide occurrences lately? Have you suffered from depression before? How did you come out of it? I really want to hear your view. Please share in the comment box below. It might help someone.