Opening up the conversation about depression and suicide - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Opening up the conversation about depression and suicide

The death of Robin Williams has started a conversation about something so many families struggle with, yet so few talk about.  There is a suicide once every 13 minutes in this country, that amounts to 39,000 Americans each year.  

Keri Forbess-McCorquodale is the president of Solutions Counseling in Lake Charles.  She says unless you have been in the depths of depression, it is hard to comprehend the hopelessness that comes with it.  "It's tiring, it's exhausting to always have to try to fight your way out of the depression," she said, "and some people just say, 'I don't want to do this anymore.'"

Williams was open about his stints in rehab and battle with depression.  Another layer to that is a reported bipolar disorder.  "One of the things that you experience is really high highs and really low lows," said Forbess-McCorquodale, "medication is great for that, but one of the things that medication does is that it decreases the span, which is great for the lows, because they're not as low, but the highs are no longer as high."

Forbess-McCorquodale says a manic depressive person might turn self-medication into substance abuse.  That is one of the big red flags to notice in a loved one, as well as basic, every day personality changes.  "I'm looking for things like anhedonia, where the things that used to bring you joy or pleasure just don't do anything for you anymore," she said, "and the obvious, the crying, but there are other things - just lack of motivation, inability to make a decision."

Asking a struggling person if he or she is depressed or suicidal is not something Forbess-McCorquodale says should be shied away from when handled sensitively.  "It's important to say to someone, 'Are you thinking about not living anymore?  Are things so bad that you've reached that point?'"

If you do not feel comfortable sitting down with a professional, there are free suicide prevention hotlines with someone ready to talk 24 hours a day.  You can also text for help with an online tool at Crisis Text Line.  "Just lifting the top layer of the burden will give somebody the clarity and strength to take the next step," said Forbess-McCorquodale.

Any symptoms lasting more than two weeks, occupying most of the day or occurring nearly every day must be considered serious.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK. 

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