Trample Stigma Of Suicide And Mental Illness: Talk About It


When someone commits suicide, a part of everyone around that person dies too -- nothing is ever the same. Time eventually heals the shock and guilt, but the pain still festers. Loved ones ever wonder, "If I just hadn't said that ...." or "If I had noticed this or that." or "If I'd only been a better mother, father, friend ...." Suicide isn't anybody's fault.

Nancy Holcombe, whose 28-year-old son Rob died by his own hand this summer, struggles with the unanswered questions.

"I felt like Rob was an adult and he knew it was a final act," Holcombe said. "I tried to be a good parent. If I could go over and do it again, I would save him."

There's an old saying in the psychological community: Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Unfortunately, many people won't talk about their problems -- either out of fear or shame.

The stigma of mental illness and suicide causes silence, but studies show that depression results in more deaths than any other social or environmental factor.

And yet, plenty of people refuse to acknowledge that a person suffering from depression needs more than a good pull on those bootstraps.

Depression is a debilitating disease. You can't just rub some dirt on it and shake it off, or float on a cruise for a week and wait for the bad weather to pass.

"It's easy for people on the sideline to say, "Let it go," Ron Peterson, a Payson psychologist said. "It's an emotional scar that gets covered over. And if you don't have enough resources around you to heal that scar, it does you in."

Left untreated or under diagnosed, depression is deadly -- suicidal ideations overwhelm the senses and mangle emotions like a fatal car wreck. Panic, heart palpitations and vertigo overcome rational thought -- the mind shrieks, "Just get me out."

Nobody should suffer in silence. Pick up the phone, talk about problems and seek help.

For those experiencing a depression lasting more than two weeks; dysthymia, long-term, low-grade depression; or bipolar disorder, marked by periods of mania and emotional crashes, ask about medication. Used in conjunction with talk therapy, antidepressants can help you feel normal again.

Take advantage of the support available in the Rim Country. Southwest Behavioral mans a 24-hour help line, (928) 474-3303, or during business hours, walk in. Talk to a clergy member -- many of the churches in town have their own support communities. Attend 12-step meetings to address auxiliary symptoms. Alcoholics Anonymous hosts a 24-hour hotline, (928) 474-3620; for family members of alcoholics, Al-Anon (928) 472-2286; and Codependents Anonymous (928) 468-1272.

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