Sunday, July 23, 2017

Depression doesn't discriminate...

I have to write a quick vent right now, while this thought is in my head.  Depression doesn't discriminate.  Suicide may seem selfish, but so is expecting someone to suffer with the pain and stigma mental illness so you don't have to feel guilty.

This topic comes up in the wake of Linkin Park's lead singer Chester Bennington's suicide.  Someone I know thinks Bennington is "selfish" for killing himself.  Furthermore, he complains that people are so distraught over Bennington's suicide, yet they don't care about all of the veteran suicides.

First off, allow me to say this...  People who are depressed enough to kill themselves are generally clinically depressed.  Clinical depression is a legitimate illness, same as any other physical malady.  A person who commits suicide, by and large, isn't doing it be an asshole.  Suicide is often a desperate act of someone who hopes to escape tremendous pain.  It may seem suicide is "selfish", but the reality is, a person who commits suicide won't be around to see the aftereffect that action has on others.  They just want the pain to stop.  And those who say they are being selfish probably haven't done a damned thing to help them.

Secondly, anyone can get depressed.  Someone like Chester Bennington, who was a celebrity and presumably had a comfortable life, certainly can get depressed.  Imagine what it must be like to be a very talented musician who is fortunate enough to be able to make that talent pay enough to live on.  Now consider that musicians are artists.  Many artists are introverted.  Maybe it seems like it's cool to be famous, but consider that if you are a private person who is inwardly focused, it might actually be exhausting to be so well-known.  A famous person doesn't have the luxury of being able to go out and be a normal person without being recognized.  A famous person has to worry about security and privacy.  A person with a lot of money has to worry about being ripped off.  That person may need help and will likely have to hire someone... and that requires being able to trust them.  A famous person is vulnerable in ways that regular people are not.

Now... this isn't to take away from the serious problem regarding military personnel who kill themselves.  People should be concerned about veterans who come home mentally ill.  We should be doing more to help them.  I simply want to point out that depression doesn't discriminate.  Everyone has problems.  Diminishing someone's problems because they happen to be rich and/or famous is short-sighted.

Life is hard.  It's harder for some people than it is for others.  Still, it's hard to know what will drive someone to desperation.  Everyone has a threshold and everyone has limits.  

I don't know Chester Bennington that well, but I had been clinically depressed before and I had been suicidal.  Depression messes up your thinking and skews your perceptions.  It's mentally, emotionally, and physically painful and it gets precious little respect from the general public.  If you are tempted to say someone is "selfish"for killing themselves, particularly if it's not a friend or a family member, ask yourself if you did anything to help them.  My guess is that you haven't, and you have no right to judge.  

I look at suicide caused by depression as a negative end result of an illness.  It's not so different than someone dying of cancer.


  1. People can be so insensitive. Bennington's case has nothing to do with the plight of veterans. Should he have simply snapped out of it because if he ended it all, it might somehow have taken something away from the circumstances faced by veterans? Veterans facing depression probably know as well as anyone does that anyone suffering through depression has limited options and few coping skills for dealing with their situation. I'm obviously presching to the choir here.

    1. Yeah. The person who inspired this rant is a nice guy, but not really a deep thinker. I don't think he understands depression. A lot of people don't. They think it's mind over matter.


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