I work in a suburban hospital emergency room and each and every day, we care for at least two (oftentimes more) individuals who have attempted or are contemplating suicide, what we call “suicidal ideations”. Sometimes these patients come in on their own, sometimes they are brought in by the police or paramedics, and sometimes family or friends bring them in for treatment. They are assessed by the ER team and then see a hospital psychiatrist to see if they need to be admitted to an inpatient facility or can be discharged to outpatient care.
It’s a challenge to try to get to the crux of why someone would want to kill themselves. Depression is an insidious disease that will make someone feel worthless and alone. When people say how “selfish” it is for someone to commit suicide, they have no idea how the brain works and how the depths of depression are, well, so deep. Trying to lift the veil of depression can be a struggle for the clinician and patient alike and often requires therapy and perhaps even medication. All good things if they help a person feel better.
Social media has made it easy for us all to think our lives are not as exciting as someone else’s and cause us to compare ourselves to others’ job successes, school achievements, amazing vacations, children’s accomplishments, just to name a few. So when I see a high profile person come out and reveal something private about themselves in a public forum, I pay attention and wonder how their words will affect others.
In scrolling through my Facebook feed (while trying not to compare myself to others, of course), I came across this Dr. Phil podcast in which Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, reveals her depression diagnosis and that she once thought about committing suicide. Even I had these thoughts: Doesn’t she have it all? Isn’t she engaged to Joe Jonas? Isn’t she slim and beautiful? How could SHE be depressed? Even me. Me who has struggled with depression and knows that there is no rhyme or reason to how it makes a person feel.
Please take a few minutes (6 to be exact) to watch this portion of the podcast. I could not love Sophie Turner any more and am sure that she will help many by coming forward with her own struggles. And remember that there is always someone to reach out to. If you are depressed or have thoughts of killing yourself, please reach out to a friend, family member, doctor, nurse or call the hotline below. There IS help and it DOES get better. And if someone tells you they are feeling suicidal, please listen closely, provide the phone number below, and know how hard for them it was to share their personal struggle with you.