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Shouldn't we all just be happy?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mother Nature is putting on her perfectly dazzling Spring Opera with colorful flowers, birds, brilliant green hues and amazing weather. Why should we worry about mental health in the middle of all this splendor? Shouldn’t we just all be happy?


That’s the problem with depression, isn’t it? Everyone else is having a great time and a depressed person is stuck in a deep well of sadness. And that is just one problem. There are, unfortunately, so many challenges in the life of someone carrying such an invisible but heavy load. When a person is depressed, it feels like being in the middle of a cold dark ocean at night, while everyone else is up on the deck of the cruise ship, asking “Why are you down there, instead of up here, having a nice time?” If it was that easy, everyone would be happy and mental health professionals would gladly find another line of work.


Depression is one of the most treatable diagnoses; yet millions struggle to find joy, even in the glory of Spring. In fact, the suicide rate typically goes UP in spring, paradoxically, and that has been the case in several replicated studies. The reasons are as enigmatic as the cause of death itself, and the answer is so often taken with the life, leaving survivors with the unbearable, obsessive array of emotions.


If depression is so treatable, why is suicide the 2nd leading cause of death in ages 1-44[1]? And could something have been done to help these lives lost annually find another way out of their pain?

Did you know that a suicidal person often displays warning signs? Sadly, however, they may only be recognized in retrospect. I want to be VERY clear: the person who took their life is the ONLY person responsible for their death. And if someone is determined to do it, they’ll find a way. However, our communities would do well to know the warning signs, and know what to do when they hear them.


Here is another paradox in all of this: the suicidal person is often ambivalent. They might be thinking of suicide, or even planning it, while simultaneously asking for help. That ask, however, is often subtle or indirect, and therefore easily missed, as in the following warning signs: “it won’t matter soon…” “you’d be better off without me”… “here is my valuable_______. I want you to have it ”… Or a sudden, inexplicable change in mood, or getting affairs in order, purchasing a weapon or other means, writing notes and letters”. They might even visit the doctor. Strangely, a significant number of people visit their physician within three weeks of their suicide, according to the NIH[2]


So, one of the missions of Tapestries Counseling Center is to be resource to the community. We want to educate as many people as we can on crisis and suicide. The more we know as friends, family, coworkers and teachers, the better prepared we are to intervene in the moment when someone is having such tunnel vision. While it might be beautiful outside, some people are hurting on the inside, and we might be in a position to help.


Join us May 23 for lunch, here at Tapestries, located inside Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. 525 Sneed Road. The topic is Suicide Awareness. To find out more and register, click here.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/animated-leading-causes.html#:~:text=Unintentional injuries are the leading,vehicle crashes, and unintentional falls. [2] Carrigan CG, Lynch DJ. Managing Suicide Attempts: Guidelines for the Primary Care Physician. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2003 Aug;5(4):169-174. doi: 10.4088/pcc.v05n0405. PMID: 15213779; PMCID: PMC419387.

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