America the Beautiful: Not Everyone Sees What You See

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Not everyone sees what you see. America, the United States, this land that stretches from shining sea to an even larger shining sea, is rich with beauty. Ask members of different people groups and you will hear contrary descriptions.

A child growing up in the country will speak of countless stars and a sky that is rarely plain. In the city, sighting stars is rare, and then only the closest and brightest. Desert-dwellers find beauty in the sand, cacti, and vast sky. In colder climates, people have trouble imagining spending much time where trees and lakes are scarce. Here in Ohio, visiting the ocean is often a once in a lifetime experience. On the East Coast, I noticed most people never visit the Great Lakes.

Abuse and discrimination mar some racial, cultural, and religious histories in this nation. You know that stigma, stereotype, and subsequent prejudice are based in lack of knowledge and rampant in our society’s psyche. Stigma doesn’t stop at social differences.

Stigma around mental illness and suicide interferes with people receiving effective treatment due to shame and fear. This is unnecessary and perpetuated in part by careless reporting. I read an unfortunate article this week listing celebrities who allegedly died by suicide. In said article: 

  1. Celebrities are the focus which automatically creates an aura of glamour around suicide. Copycat suicide is a common event.
  2.  This rambling report describes methods of suicide. It is basically a how-to.
  3. The repeated phrase “committed suicide” adds to the shame factor because it is accusation of evil intent. “Died by suicide” is preferrable because it pointedly describes the true cause of a harsh reality.
  4. Several stories on this list are about admittedly accidental deaths.
  5. The writer quotes people’s last words adding to the morbid curiosity factor. Why this matters is that sufferers of suicidal thinking are likely obsessing over death.

Like the physical beauty, complicated history, and social divides of America, knowledge and experience shape each person’s point of view. Only those who have been through suicidal thinking, depression, and mental illness can know how it feels. 

How we talk about mental illness, matters; so does how we listen to different points of view.



NOTE: I am not a doctor or 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 is yours.


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