I am not a numbers person. Contrary to my stereotype, I was horrible at math. But consider this:
- 1 in 10 Americans suffer from depression.
- The National Alliance of Mental Illness estimate that 25 million American adults are affected by depression in one given year, but only half of them receive treatment.
- 30,000 people commit suicide each year.
- 750,000 people attempt suicide.
With numbers like these, you would think that depression would have been more widely accepted as a real disease. Sure, people are talking about it a lot more (which is great), but how long will that discussion last?
Will people take Robin Williams’ passing as the final kick in the pants and continue the discussion after his unfortunate suicide fades from headlines? Or will we forget about it and go back to our merry lives until another celebrity lends their voice to the issue or passes away?
The choice is yours.
I know where I stand because I’ve been on the verge of ending my life before. I’m still battling the demons of depression.
The hardest part was not the swallowing of the pills. It was not sitting for hours on a therapist’s sticky leather couch. It was not suppressing the urge to cut every time the medicine hit my system.
The hardest part was staying.
Staying alive for my friends and family.
Staying alive and hearing things like “It will get better,” even though life kept giving me reasons to throw the towel in.
Sometimes letting go is easier than staying.
I know that I didn’t believe that my life could get better. All I saw was the reality in front of me. And that reality was that my life wasn’t fun.
You could argue that suicide only benefits one person and leaves so many hurt people in the wake of tragedy. But I know that when I was thinking about dying, I wasn’t thinking about how selfish I was. I was not thinking that suicide would be a free pass. I was thinking about how I would no longer be a burden to my family and friends.
You could call Robin Williams selfish, but I’d be willing to bet that he held on for as long as he did because of his loved ones.
My friends are the only reason I’ve held on for this long.
Robin Williams was the one who said that we are all given “a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
What will you do with your one spark of madness?