Author: Domynic Lopez, Pima Community College
There are no two people in this world who think exactly alike all the times. It is completely impossible to know exactly how others feel. This is because no two people have the same experiences, tragedies, memories, accomplishments, etc. There is no formula either, the most predictable of people can change their ways of thinking without anyone else knowing or even understanding why. Let’s create an example: Joe is your average 26 year old guy, he grew up with every resource imaginable in a stable home with supportive parents. Fast-forward to present-day, he has a job with an advertising company where he makes a decent living and has worked for the past 4 years. Joe’s next door neighbor is his best friend from college who got him his advertising job, they now work together. Like mentioned before Joe is pretty average, he has friends he goes out with on weekends, a girlfriend, even an everyday routine during the week. With no signs at all, out of nowhere, Joe takes his own life. Now I know this example is a bit morbid and also could have included some more details, but the point is to everyone in his life Joe seemed happy and normal; he seemed what society deems normal. Also successful, he was young and making good money with a degree, nothing but his future ahead of him. So why does Joe take his own life? No one in Joe’s life saw this coming there were no signs of self-harm at all, and all of those who knew him described him as happy, successful, and hardworking. Not a single person in his life though had asked him how he had been or what he was feeling for years. Everyone around Joe assumed he was happy because of how well he seemed to be doing, and the keyword there is “seemed.”
Unless telepathic, there is no one who knows what’s going on in another person’s head. The human mind has the capabilities to do a lot and this includes the ability to falsify one’s own external behavior. What a lot of people do not know though, the human mind and body both have what you could call “tells,” like in poker. These tells are the signs of depression, suicidal, and manic behavior, and for most people struggling with these mental illnesses: the only external signs shown are the tells. If we were to continue using Joe as an example, no one paid attention but the inside of his car was disgusting with trash everywhere and it smelt. That was a clear sign of his lack of hygiene and motivation, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz’s “Signs of Poor Mental Health/Depression” he says: “poor hygiene and the attempt, rather the lack thereof the attempt to be and feel clean, is a clear sign someone who may be experiencing depression,”(Oz 21). There are resources out there for people to gain knowledge on the brain and mental illnesses, but the public refuses to read further than the front page, if that.
Whether refusing to read further into it or just blind to the cause, the public is quite unaware of what some people go through. According to Hopkins Medicine approximately twenty-six percent of Americans suffer from mental illness and another eight percent go undiagnosed. To go with that statistic, Hopkins Medicine also says close to five percent of Americans commit suicide every year, eighty-five percent of those with mental illness. While there is no statistic on how many of those could have been prevented, it is true that people are easily persuaded for the most part. Given the chance or opportunity how many of those lives could have been saved with some therapy, or even a simple talk? Those who do know that this topic is a real issue seem to fail to understand how to go about having these life-saving talks. When talking to a suicidal person we must talk rather than ask questions because this person already feels distressed and out of place. Questioning them and making them feel like less because of their thoughts is not going to help, instead hearing them out will. In an article called “My friend is talking about suicide. How can I help?” The author writes: “When someone you love mentions suicide, you might believe avoiding the subject entirely and encouraging them to think about brighter things will help them feel better,”(Raypole 7). This specific scenario is for when a close friend or someone you may love is experiencing suicidal thoughts and/or tendencies. Every person is different and so is every case, even the way one reacts or should respond can vary based on the relationship they have with the effected person. For example a coworker might not notice a social change in someone, but rather a work ethic change or a decrease in work load.
There are signs and ways to help prevent suicide, outside of the basic hotline help centers. There are actual personal and emotional ways to help those suffering from suicidal tendencies or thoughts. The biggest problem or roadblock is that the general public does not know what signs to look for in a distressed person. Even if majority of people can or do know how to tell when someone they know is suicidal, they hardly know how to respond correctly and effectively. Suicide can not be completely prevented, but, as corny as it sounds, the world can be made a better and more comfortable place for all. All it takes is a little awareness and a small amount of knowledge on just how to have a good talk with someone going through this pain.
Oz, Mehmet C. “Detecting and Treating Depression.” The Dr. Oz Show, 10 Feb. 2021, https://www.doctoroz.com/article/detecting-and-treating-depression.
Raypole, Crystal. “How to Help a Suicidal Friend: 11 Tips.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 16 Dec. 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/how-to-help-a-suicidal-friend.