As often as I think about the people who are affected by depression, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts, I think about the people that are left behind after a suicide or who are trying to help a loved one who may be depressed.
As I have shared before, I was affected immensely after someone I loved very much committed suicide. After reading an article about a father whose son had killed himself, I was struck with the realization of how these acts not only affect the person who is experiencing suicidal thoughts or is depressed, but it affects everyone in that person’s life.
The article told of a professor at a Southern California school who had been suffering a mental breakdown since his son had died. Although this man may have been an extreme case, the article explained his many emails that were sent to himself and his wife describing how he wanted to hurt other people, the pain he feels as a father is very similar to what many of us feel after someone we love has died. Suicide can leave loved ones feeling empty, like they should have, or could have, seen it coming. But these feelings are something that many families experience even if someone they love hasn’t died.
Depression can have similar effects on family members, feeling like maybe they have failed that person or that they should be able to cheer somebody up who is depressed, but it’s not that easy.
Suicide and depression affect so many people, whether it is directly or indirectly, and yet we’re still uncomfortable talking about this subject. The awkward tension that may be felt while trying to talk to someone about these subjects is far less than the pain and emotions that are felt after losing a loved one to suicide.
We all have a story, some are just harder to tell. Opening up and being willing to share your story may prompt someone who is struggling to do the same.