Trigger Warning: Suicide
Disclaimer: Even though it’s going to be very obvious who I’m referring to in this post, I don’t want to name names because I don’t think it’s necessary.
Recently a high profile singer committed suicide. In the days that followed there was an outpouring of grief across social media and seemingly an increased awareness of depression and mental health. It appeared that something good had come out of such a tragedy. All over social media, people were actually talking about depression rather than shying away from it. There were statuses from people letting others know that they were always here to talk and helpline numbers were being shared all over the internet.
There was a huge call to take mental health more seriously. It felt like something had shifted in the public’s minds, perhaps the jolt that was needed to face stigma head on and stop sticking our heads in the sand on the subject of suicide.
But merely two weeks later, another celebrity posted a video online that could only be described as a cry for help. Mental health is all too frequently romanticised. Unless we deal with it on a personal level, either ourselves or through a loved, we only tend to face mental heath post tragedy, when the only thing to be done is to be sad about the death or the crisis. We don’t have to get our hands dirty, someone else has already done that. But the video in question revealed more than we would usually be faced with. It was real, it was heartbreaking and most importantly it could not be ignored.
Depression suddenly didn’t look like what we’d been told for so long. The media paint depression out to be a state of mind, not an illness. Something that everyone suffers with at some point, where if you just put your mind to it, you’ll be strong enough to overcome it. This was the first time that depression looked like a breakdown in a motel room.
But as ever, the internet did its thing and had to worsen the situation. Comment after comment stating that this woman in front of them had had fame and money and people who loved and cared about her. And none of these people made the connection. That depression doesn’t care about any of those things, depression doesn’t discriminate. Stating that something is just a ‘cry for attention’ doesn’t help the matter in any way. A cry for attention needs answering. And thankfully, this time, people answered.
It is all too common that people talk about their mental health after crisis point, not giving it its full attention at the time when it’s most needed. After a suicide, the individual becomes almost deified, yet during crisis, they are often ridiculed for asking for help or told that their illness isn’t serious enough. A person needing help from depression isn’t a person asking for you to decide whether they are ill or not. They aren’t a person thinking about the good things they have. They’re not considering how much support they would have if they just asked for it.
They are simply a person who needs help.