Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
An airplane loaded with sixty-six passengers and crew went missing today. As of this writing there has been a confirmed crash; everyone on board was killed.
This is big news this morning! People are making guesses, accusing without evidence, and some are sadly cracking jokes. I believe this is because airplane crashes frighten us. We will cope by searching for an explanation, trying to make it into a smaller problem so we can know comfort.
If we can define a problem, and measure it, then we can control it, right? We grow more afraid when terrorism is mentioned because we feel helpless against it.
Now imagine if you will, a jetliner crashing killing all 200 people on board*. This has occurred before, so we know that the news and reactions we are seeing today are similar in those cases. Let us say a second jetliner crashes two days later, again ending the lives of 200 people. I suppose governments would be scrambling for answers. Airlines would lose business temporarily. The global economy would be affected, as trade and travel slowed. There would be plenty of conversation, that is certain.
What if such a crash took place every other day for a full year? Do you suppose we would talk about it? Of course, our world would cease to function as we know it; it would be the number one priority on every nation’s list. Preachers, teachers, parents, store clerks, farmers, and business professionals – we would all be exploring what this means to us personally.
What if I were to tell you that suicide takes that many lives each year, just in America? Few are talking about it because few understand the impact suicide is having in our world. An American dies by suicide every 13 minutes, statistically speaking. Financial, social, and emotional costs are staggering.
Nearly two-thirds of gun deaths in the U.S.A. are suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of suicides has increased by over ten percent in the last dozen years. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teenagers.** Globally, it causes more death than war, natural disasters, and homicide combined!
One reason it is a secret is because of stigma. For example, families of those who die by suicide often do not report it as such due to shame. People die “by accident” or “in their sleep” or “without a known cause.” Of course, these types of deaths occur, however so do many completed suicides.
Because of confusion and fear concerning mental illness, stereotypes rule our conversations on the subject. We speak of “the crazies” and people who “should be put away.” We tell persons with depression to drink chamomile tea or to go for more walks.
The “Big C,” as cancer was referred to once upon a time, has become front and center in our collective consciousness. That is because it became a conversation. Mental illness and suicide need to become conversations. Most suicides are due to a diagnosable mental health issue. Suicide is preventable because treatment for mental illness is available!
This Mental Health Awareness Week, we can do something to start the conversation. Share this article, or go online to factual sites such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP.org) or National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI.org) and grow in understanding. Attend therapy to discuss your concerns and discover why this system works. Sit down with your family and explore everyone’s thoughts on depression and suicide. Look up facts together.
We need more conversation.
(My sympathies to the families of the victims of today’s Egypt Air crash.)
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.
*Hackert, Janet. MissouriFamilies.org, Suicide is the most preventable cause of death. Quote by Gary Hillebrand. Retrieved from:http://missourifamilies.org/features/healtharticles/health123.htm