Amy Kay Cole, PhD
What to Do When a Loved One is Severely Depressed
Suicide affects the entire country including Joplin. It shocks us when successful, loved individuals suffer from depression so severe they end their lives. Why would successful people who are loved by those close to them end their own lives? How could they do that to their children? What does it mean for our loved ones who suffer from depression? These questions are unsettling and complicated.
According to psychologists, suicide is on the rise in our country. Psychologists and counselors know that no one is immune to suffering and depression. Suicidal thoughts occur in people regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, and relationship quality. Close to 7% of Americans struggle with depression. Many of them experience suicidal thoughts. In my practice as a psychologist, I’ve found that suicidal individuals often see only two roads in front of them. One road is the continuation of the pain and hopelessness they feel. The other road is death. They often can’t see a third road without depression and suffering. And when someone is deeply depressed, they can convince themselves that death is a solution. They can convince themselves it would be best for everyone. Counselors and psychologists have worked with deeply depressed people who feel a sense of peace when they come up with a suicide plan. Suicide leaves such anguish for others that some people view it as a selfish act, particularly when they think about the children who are affected. We need to remember that depression is a disease and chemical changes in the brain affect how people think. Severely depressed people are not thinking clearly and can’t fully comprehend the ramifications of their actions. They need help.
Experiencing suicidal thoughts does not necessarily mean a person will act on those thoughts. But people need to talk about them. Those conversations can take place with counselors, psychologists, clergy members, or loved ones. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or have a loved one you are concerned about, reach out to professionals. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is (800) 273-8255. The local Ozark Center Crisis Service in Joplin can be reached at (417) 347-7720 or (800) 247-0661. Read about ways to help a severely depressed loved one in the attached article.