Like many, I was saddened to hear the news of Robin William’s suicide this week. In light of this news, we are given a glimpse into the deeper reality of his life. While he made many laugh, he himself suffered greatly. My dad noticed yesterday that the phrase being used on the news is “he has passed.” Yet, that is not the full truth. He chose to end his life. Death of a loved one is so very hard, but death by suicide is an especially awful reality. Despite the media’s general avoidance of mental illness (although not all media has avoided this conversation), I am seeing folks begin to talk about suicide and depression more publicly this week. These are two bad words in our society – suicide and depression. We tend to shy away from talking about mental illness in general. It is not a socially accepted topic. When’s the last time you went to a dinner party and the topic of depression came up? Yet, so many of us have been personally impacted by depression, whether through our own boughts or through that of a family member or friend. The numbers are staggering. According to the World Health Organization, over 350 million people in the world suffer from depression. At the same time, I get the fear that comes with talking honestly about mental illness. It’s such a tender, vulnerable reality. It brings up more questions than answers, more pain than joy.
Last November, my brother decided to share his story publicly about his experience with depression and suicide. As I thought about what to post this week, this previous blog post came to mind.
So that we continue to have brave conversations about the truth of our hearts and the reality of mental illness…
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my intentions to post the audio file from my brother and my interview through Story Corps. Well, my dad found a way to post it, so here it is.
As we enter into this Thanksgiving week, I find myself grateful for many things. However, one of my continued thanks is that my brother is still with us. For those unfamiliar with his story, my brother has survived multiple suicide attempts. In the recording we talk about the night of his first attempt, as well as his experience growing up with depression. It was an honor to interview my brother and I appreciate the honesty and vulnerability he brought to the table. I’m so proud of the courage it took for him to speak about suicide and depression. Please feel free to share our story.