Depression and suicide... you may never see it coming.
Wales manager Gary Speed found dead - Former Wales international Robbie Savage wrote on Twitter: "He was upbeat on phone yesterday we were laughing together, talking football and dancing he was a great teammate and a great friend #RIP."
This news hit the sports pages today, another victim of suicide likely brought on by depression. I had never heard of this guy before today, so it doesn't hit me at the level of someone close to me deciding to take his or her life. But the part of the article I included above struck me, as it often seems to be part of far too many suicide stories.
When friends and acquaintances of a suicide victim are interviewed or questioned, often there's a statement along the lines of how happy they seemed just a few days (or even hours) before. Sometimes it's known that the person is suffering through a tough situation. It might be money issues, employment problems, or marital troubles. They might have been on depression medications that had either become ineffective or were not creating the right chemical balance in the brain. Perhaps they were on meds, but they considered themselves "cured" and stopped taking them, whether due to pride or unwanted side effects. All of those effects and reasons could be in play, but from someone on the outside looking in, everything seemed fine... until it wasn't.
We're far too good at putting on masks... especially guys. People ask "how are you", and you answer with the expected response... I'm fine. But you're not. The veneer and facade is thin, and it's barely concealing the sense of hopelessness, uselessness, and trapped desperation that you're feeling. The problems have gotten so large, the obstacles so high, the only path to peace seems to be to end the game.
And meanwhile, we never see it coming.
Before you decide to take that final step of no return, call someone. Talk to someone. Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) and see if there are options you haven't considered. Talk to your doctor and have a frank discussion about what you're feeling. Open up to a close friend and let them help. Tell us you need help, but not in a way that makes it too late to do anything.
And for those looking in from the outside... Our "social" world makes it appear that we know someone better than we ever thought. Instead of having three friends, you have 300. You chat, email, and tweet them every day. But do you take the time to get beyond the social pleasantries, to talk about something other than work, technology, football, or a dozen other topics that are "safe"? When you type "how r u?" and they say "fine", do you take the time to challenge that if you sense something's not quite right? Are you afraid to say "r u sure?", "really?", or "no you're not"? Try it some time... you may literally save someone's life.
Don't hide behind "It's none of my business" or "I wouldn't know what to say". Just be there. That may be all they need. Don't let a moment of embarrassment or awkwardness stop you from reaching out. It's far better to deal with that than it is to deal with "if I had only..." the rest of your life.