As news broke that the missing Ohio State football player’s body had been found, I was coincidentally working on writing this article on depression and suicide prevention.
A few months ago, my dear friend Sam had the terrible misfortune of losing his son to suicide.
I originally met Sam on Twitter through a hashtag where people shared content related to everything social media, but our families quickly became friends in real life too. A few of my digital friends were trying to come up with something special we could do for Sam (and his family) when we realized that if we used our collective social media influence, we could do something really meaningful for not only Sam, but for other families managing similar loss. We decided to curate content from December 1-25 on depression and suicide awareness. We are using the hashtag #NotAlone, Please watch and share my tweets and our posts as it’s our hope that through our efforts we might be able to save a few lives.
“It is estimated that about 10 to 15 percent of children/teens are depressed at any given time. Research indicates that one of every four adolescents will have an episode of major depression during high school with the average age of onset being 14 years!” -PsycheCentral
Kosta Karageorge, the Ohio State football player, was found near campus, with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. According to the online reports, his mother mentioned that Kosta had suffered from several concussion and had been extremely confused. She received a text from him that read, “I am sorry if I am an embarrassment.”
According to the Suicide.org website, researchers found that there is a very string association existed between concussions and clinical depression. “The findings significantly underscore the importance of understanding and evaluating the potential neurological consequences of recurrent mild traumatic brain injuries,” said co-author Dr. Bailes. “Not only do concussions and other head injuries in early adulthood significantly raise the risk of depression decades later, but concussions are reported to have a permanent effect on thinking and memory skills later in life.”
As parents, it’s impossible to have answers to everything and we can’t blame ourselves when we don’t see signs we didn’t know we should be looking for. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there may be an increase in suicides, in 2012 (the last time the study was done) 40,600 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. In the past, suicide was considered a taboo as an act against God, people were embarrassed to discuss let alone try to understand why.
Depression – not in my family…
As a child, I grew up having a relative (my father’s sister) who suffered from mental illness. She was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic / manic-depressive and has always struggled to live outside of institutions. There is still so little that we truly know about mental illness, which is likely why the stigma of depression continues.
I remember sitting at the kitchen table speaking with my parents about how I felt really depressed. I was in my early twenties and they clearly just didn’t understand. I know that it’s not that they didn’t care, but their response was something like, “Renee, you have a great life…nothing to be depressed about.” Perhaps they were under the false impression that depression could just be turned on and off or that people used the idea of depression as an excuse or a crutch. I remember my father saying, “what are you, like Aunt Roseanne?” that comment stung for a long time. For them, the idea of having a child who was depressed was embarrassing. They didn’t know what we know…it’s about education.
What can we do?
If you’ve never felt depressed then it’s hard to imagine the blanket of sadness that envelopes you when you suffer from depression. It can be a sunny, beautiful day but depression does not discriminate; it just happens and it’s awful. It’s like a heavy weight of sadness, a dark glaze overshadowing even the brightest moments. What we need to do is work on being aware by recognizing the signs and how to help. We need to accept that nobody’s perfect, embrace the people we love when they need us…and not pass judgement. Be honest and open.
Be aware of the signs of depression in teens (from HelpGuide.org):
- Madness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of death or suicide
A Few Resources: