I am not expressing any opinion on the death of Sandra Bland. However, since the topic of depression and suicide have been brought up we are going to talk about it.
Depression is real. A person who is depressed can’t “Just get over it.” I can only speak to “my community” who happen to all be African American- but we have no sympathy for people who are depressed, we just chalk them up to being lazy. I often hear, “What could she possibly be depressed about?” I’ve been guilty of saying this myself, and I’ve heard it said about me. The reality is the reason for a person’s depression is not for you to understand. The reason, whatever it is- is very real to them.
Sometimes a depressed person can’t verbalize why they are depressed. They may not even know they are depressed. All they may know is that “something is wrong” with them. Since they can’t identify what is wrong with, they sink further into depression. Family members often don’t recognize that a person is depressed. If a person does commit suicide, you will often hear “She wasn’t depressed.” The fact that there were no outward signs that YOU recognized doesn’t mean a person isn’t depressed. Whether you believe depression is a state of mind or a mental disorder, no one can know what is going on in a person’s head- not even their “soul mate.”
Many depressed individuals do ask for help- not with words but with their actions. The people around them just don’t recognize their call for help because they don’t say, “I NEED HELP.” They call for help by “acting out” or NOT acting out. They may just stay to themselves or act aggressive, bitchy or “crazy.”
African-Americans make up one of the smallest percentages of suicides in the general population — However struggling with depression is not uncommon for African-American women. They just suffer in silence.
Doctors and researchers believe that gender-based discrimination, poverty, and poor overall mental help play a major part in a person’s decision to commit suicide. That all sounds good- very scientific, but the actuality is NO ONE knows what drives a person to suicide. They may have gotten a divorce, lost their job or lost a loved one. These events may be the final straw that gave them the courage to harm themselves, but it was not the entire reason. There were other precipitating acts. These acts slowly built upon each other and a person “snaps.”
Whether or not you can stop a person from committing suicide is debatable. But what we can do is stop criticizing and being judgemental towards people. Maybe then they will feel comfortable asking for and seeking help.