I have become increasingly concerned about the increase of suicides by first responders. I have read articles that say more police officers commit suicide than are killed in the line of duty as well as statistics that more veterans commit suicide than have been killed on the battlefield. This is not to minimize all people who suffer a loss of some sort, disenfranchised groups who feel discriminated against and bullied or just chronically depressed people.
Here are some important things to understand about suicide. Most suicides succeed after several failed attempts. So the ability to intervene is there if you are paying attention. Clinical depression versus having several sad weeks after a loss, is fueled by an imbalance in brain chemistry. It is similar to how the body reacts to diabetes and lack of insulin. With the proper dose of insulin, person can begin to return to normal.
Antidepressants, anti-anxiety and antipsychotics medications can reverse the imbalance in the brain chemistry to allow the person to feel better and gain the strength to handle whatever situation may have altered or aggravated the imbalance. Many people do not have a triggering event. Just like with diabetes, it can strike anyone.
Mental illness is just like any other illness except it happens in the brain. It is not something you can wish away or ignore. It is not the result of a weak character. It requires treatment. It should be treated with all the tools to make a positive difference in the person’s life. It breaks my heart to see well-meaning family and friends deny the pain of their loved ones because of the stigma of mental illness.
The first step is to see your medical doctor for a diagnosis. If the doctor feels medication could help, then try it. Your doctor may order other tests to rule out other imbalances or causes for the mental despair. Many medical problems show depression as their first symptom as the person becomes aware that something is not right.
Doing nothing should not be an option. You never know what is causing the mental despair. Get a medical opinion and comply with the advice or seek another medical opinion if you disagree. If you are truly a loving friend or family member, offer to go with the person to the doctor for support or help with making the appointment. Severely depressed people cannot do these things on their own. They can hardly get out of bed in the morning, a clear sign of depression. If your loved one is not themselves, can’t get their life together, abuses substances, displays reckless behavior, etc. please help them to get a medical opinion. Doing nothing should not be an option.