Over the past week I’ve been racking my brain to come up with something more positive to talk about even when I feel my life is in a tumbling phase. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to think of anything too positive. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful that things are starting to smooth out and we’re beginning to get on somewhat of an even keel, but that doesn’t make depression go away.
So I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room, so to speak, and that would be depression. This is the part where everyone shifts uncomfortably in their chairs as they stare at their screen, because well you know… mental illness.
Approximately 20 to 25% of the adult population in the United States suffers from depression. That’s about 48 to 61 million adults that are estimated to be living in the United States.
I have been one of these millions of people since I was about 14 or 15 years old. Depression isn’t just feeling disheartened or upset because something bad is happening; it is (from my experience of it) a soul-crushing darkness that consumes every moment of your life and your body, rendering you unable to enjoy living. It makes getting out of bed in the morning a chore in itself, and sometimes a chore that takes nearly all day. Taking a shower, cooking a meal, walking the dog, all of these become tasks that consume so much energy and effort you feel that you cannot do them at times. It really is that dark sometimes, and most of the time there is a loneliness that is indescribably painful and deep.
Feeling like this day after day is often a reason that someone chooses to end their own life. If you felt like nothing was ever going to get better day after grueling day wouldn’t you begin to think the same way? If it took all the energy you could summon just to remove yourself from your bed and walk to the bathroom to relieve yourself in the morning, how would you feel?
Every 13 minutes in the United States, someone ends their life via suicide, worldwide the rate of suicide is even higher. By the time you finish reading this post, assuming that you do, four or five people will have ended their own lives. Worldwide the rate of suicide is one death every 40 seconds, more than 800,000 annually. The sad reality of the problem is that it depression doesn’t have to end in suicide. Nearly 98% of people diagnosed with depression are treatable; it just takes reaching out for that help.
In our society, we have deemed mental illness taboo and something to be looked down upon for ages, and the cost of this ideal is measured in human lives.
1 in 100,000 deaths of children ages 10 to 14.
7 in 100,000 deaths of children ages 15 to 19.
12.7 in 100,000 deaths of young adults ages 20 to 24.
These are the costs of this stigma we place on mental illness.
Each year a quarter of a million people become survivors of suicide attempts.
These statistics are just for average cis-gendered people too. Being a member of the LGBT community puts one at a higher risk of depression or suicide. Over 80% of transgender people have contemplated suicide, 47-49% of those 80% have committed suicide. That’s almost half of the transgender population or about 7.8 million just here in the United States. (This is assuming that 5% is accurate percentage of population that is transgender. An exact percentage is unknown at the current time; however, 2-5% is the average estimate.)
Over the past six months, we’ve seen live after life lost to suicide, most commonly children. Kids that haven’t even begun to really live or experience all there is to life. It’s time that we get rid of the idea that having a treatable mental illness is something to be ashamed of. It’s not.
If you’re thinking about suicide please reach out for help.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
If you have the contact information for a suicide hotline please feel free to share it in the comments along with the area that it covers.