When Depression and Suicide Invade a Town, How Do You Reverse It?

The article for this week titled “Depressed, but Not Ashamed” stands out to me as a game changer. One of the things I enjoy most about this generation that I am in is that we are unafraid to break the mold. This isn’t something I’ve always known because I come from a hometown where people don’t talk about change and where people often act drastically to save a little face.

I’m from Lake Orion, MI. At least when I went to high school there, people never talked about feelings like depression or anxiety or loneliness. To keep it frank, appearances were of the utmost importance while mental health was left completely unacknowledged. And during my time at LOHS and the couple of years after I left, suicide rates were unimaginably high. We lost nine students and alumni within 4 years and a few more after I left. While that’s not a huge percentage of our population, we’re talking about real people’s lives that were lost because they were afraid to talk to someone and admit that they weren’t okay. The next days at school were always filled with “he was always so happy” or “he was the kindest person” (by the way, I’m not being gender insensitive – all were male) which was obviously not the case. They acted in a way in which people saw them as happy instead of how they were truly feeling.

I not only applaud these young woman for wanting to get the conversation going in a productive and unashamed fashion, but for not giving up when they were told no. This generation is one of doers and we all hold the power to literally change the world. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak our minds and not take no for an answer. This journalism course is giving us the skills to put our minds in writing that can be shared with the world and can be used to start the winds of change. Two girls had a vision and look what perseverance got them – an article in the New York Times and an audience large enough to take a stand.

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About Sarah C

Hi there! My name is Sarah and I am a medical student at Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) pursing a career as a physician. I am also a Style Consultant with Premier Designs so I stay very busy. I graduated in 2015 from the University of Michigan with my B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology with a Minor in Writing.

4 Responses to “When Depression and Suicide Invade a Town, How Do You Reverse It?”

  1. It is honestly sad how people who are depressed are afraid to express their internal feelings to anyone, even their closest friends or family. The masks they put on over the years are so well put together that sometimes people find it so surprising for the person to be secretly depressed.

    With stories like these, it’s appropriate for a journalist to write a piece that sheds light on facts and stories that people are unaware of. It’s not easy for us to make a story out of such an emotive piece without being sensational in our diction, but the words we choose create empathy.

    Another obstacle that journalists often have to overcome is the people that do not want these untold stories to be told because they’re afraid of the truth, pretentiously saying that it’s meant to “protect” others, but I think that it’s doing exactly the opposite. By not having these stories told, others will continue to feel depressed, and the emotions do have a tipping point.

    This past seminar has changed my view on the class, and I’m now more aware of the power of words.

    -Brian

  2. I absolutely agree! This was an amazing front in journalism, where these girls had a message and did not stop until it was shared.

    I have to say however that the coverage on their story, was a little disappointing. As we discussed in class, while they did receive attention and were affirmed for their message that depression is not shameful and should by no means me hidden/not discussed, the fact that their stories were truncated and the message diluted is very disappointing. I am sure however that this will only further push the girls to do even greater things.

  3. I am deeply saddened by the stigmatization of depression and suicide in today’s society. With more teens taking their lives each year, I wish more would come together to create safe, secure, peaceful environments for young adults who are suffering in silence. While I think it is crucial to present the story in the most accurate, authentic way possible (and sometimes that infringes on our comfort or personal security levels), I think it’s sad that a school would limit such a creative work that aims to give students a voice and a sense of agency when dealing with something that is so difficult to deal with and discuss. I agreed with their decisions to not add the football player’s narrative to the project. I feel it would’ve detracted from the message and mission of the piece. Ultimately, I gathered that this project was a form of healing made “for students, by students” which is one of the most powerful ways to build connections and erect change in the way people treat each other in schools and in life.

  4. “appearances were of the utmost importance while mental health was left completely unacknowledged.” This line really stuck with me out of your post. In my Public Health class, we had a guest lecturer come in and talk about mental illness. He explained that mental illness today is spoken of the way cancer was spoken of many years ago. Basically, that it isn’t spoken of. It makes people squirm and it makes them uncomfortable and that is why it has become so stigmatized. Until the stigma is removed I think it will be hard to make actual change. Whenever bad results come from mental illness it seems like the person is simply labeled as crazy and everyone moves on and forgets that there is an actual issue. Or uses it as entertainment. Amanda Bynes is a prime example of mental illness being taken lightly- people just say she fell of the deep end and laugh at her but really there is a deeper issue at hand. I agree with you that what these two women have done is honorable, and necessary. People need to be comfortable with having open dialogue about these topics that make people skittish. these are the conversations people try to avoid but are necessary to make a real change. I feel that many cases of suicide would be avoidable had they been comfortable addressing their mental illness. Great post!!

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