Beginning the discussion around mental health awareness

Sydni Zidarevich

Due to recent events in our community, suicide is being talked more. Even though it is tragic that someone taking his life is what has started to spark this discussion, it is extremely important, and should not have been what started the discussion. Aurora Behavioral Health Center is a local facility with an impatient and outpatient programs that helps those with mental-health. Aurora is also set up to help people with many other problems, such as help those who have a chemical dependency or helping veterans that deal with PTSD.
According to data from Aurora, in 2016 alone, there were 431 deaths by suicide in San Diego County, which is about 13.1 deaths per 100,000 people, and a reported 14.5percent of students in grades 9-12 have considered suicide in the last year. These statistics are not small, but our common knowledge about suicide seems to be.
Having suicidal thoughts, and going through life feeling alone, unwanted or even insignificant is a hard battle to go through. It is draining, and to come to the decision in your own mind that you are not wanted or loved and take your own life is not giving up. It’s a battle that was lost, and it is a tragedy many families have to face every single day.
According to experts at Aurora, suicide is a complicated issue with varying and moving factors, such as protective, biological, psychological, and environmental risks. Risk factors are the characteristics that make it more likely for an individual to contemplate, attempt, or die by suicide, while biological factors contribute to genetics and an individual’s predisposition for depression and mental illness. Dealing with depression while going through life feeling alone, unwanted and insignificant is a common symptom.
The topic is taboo because the topic scares us.
According to Susan Writer, a community outreach liaison, who goes out into the community to educate about mental health and substance use, we are scared of the outcome of our speech, we almost refuse to address the subject:
“The reason suicide is so scarcely spoken about is because we’re scared of what comes afterwards. We don’t know what we should or shouldn’t say, and we don’t want to talk about mental health.”
The reason many of us do not talk about suicide is because not many of us know how to deal with this difficult topic, and no one wants to face the reality that something as terrible and heart-wrenching could be real but it is. Maybe because it is misunderstood or too large of a topic to handle at all once, but ultimately, the topic of suicide leads back to the topic of mental health, and where we as individuals stand on our own. As a community, talking about suicide and mental health need to be common discussions.
Depression, being the most common form of mental health seen in individuals across the nation, has been seen to have a correlation with suicide. There is no way of saying if depression leads to suicide because the causes of suicide vary so much from person to person.
“There is a 40-percent chance that over each individual’s lifetime, they will have experienced clinical depression,” Writer said. “And that’s not to mention non-clinical cases.”
A common misconception of depression is that it is just being sad, but it is more complicated, and it affects both men and women of any age or race. It can be caused by the changing of brain chemistry as well as contributions such as genetics, stress, certain medical conditions, grief or traumatic and difficult life situations.
Author Cait Irwin wrote and described her journey with living with depression in her book, Conquering the Beast Within. Not only does she speak about her own battle, but she gives tips with the hope that her experience will help others in their own personal battles.
Depression affects kids, teens, and adults more than any other mental disorder, and it can lead to loss of appetite, loss of interest, insomnia, and even fatigue. All the symptoms of depression can also be warning signs for suicide.
According to Writer, it is the small changes in a person, such as those in their appetite or sleeping habits that one must look out for.
Whether you may be someone who is fighting depression and fighting the internal battle of suicide, or whether you know someone who is experiencing these difficult times, there are solutions and help out there. It is important to address the problem even if it will make that person mad at you. Their life is more important than any annoyance or anger they could feel at your attempting to help them.
“People will tell me all the time, ‘Oh well, they’re going to hate me. And, here’s the thing I always say, and I say it to my patients, and I’ll say it to you: You can be mad at me for the rest of my life, then have to go visit your grave for the rest of my life,” said Writer. “I have to choose between these two things right now. And I’m making the choice for you to live.”
At RB High, there are many people who can help: counselors, the school’s psychologist, teachers and staff. If you would rather remain anonymous, there are also ways to get help, either for yourself or for someone else:, the 24-hour-suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255), or you can text ‘HOME’ to 741741.
Speaking out, although scary and intimidating, is most important. Even when it seems that there is nothing left, even when there is that empty feeling, like there is nothing more that the world can offer, there are people who will and want to help you.

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