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Op-Ed: Silence is the killer

By KJ Mullins     Aug 12, 2014 in Health
Toronto - Social Media went wild last night as the news that it appeared that Robin Williams took his life. The world was in shock that a man so talented would end his life. Williams was not alone.
In Canada over 3,800 people will die by their own hand and the majority of them will be suffering from depression at the time of their death.
Depression is more than a day or two of being sad. It's an overwhelming feeling that requires medical care that can result in reckless behavior, physical pain, despair and hopelessness. It is also a major risk factor when it comes to suicide. Sadly it is also a disorder that for too many carries the additional burden of shame because it is a mental illness. Because of the shame and stigma many remain silent about their illness, suffering alone in the dark.
One of the disturbing comments I have seen dealing with Robin Williams' death dealt with his and other celebrities who died as a result of depression/suicide was that they couldn't handle fame and "that money cannot bring peace to their minds and hearts." That type of comment is part of the stigma of mental health issues. Placing blame on top of disease keeps people in the dark about the real complex issues of mental illness, a disease that doesn't peek into one's wallet before it strikes.
Williams dealt not only with bi-polar disorder and alcohol addiction but he also had a heart problem. It is well documented that those who undergo heart surgery often deal with depression afterwards.
Mental illness affects almost every person that walks the earth in one way or another. From depression to eating disorders to addiction to psychotic disorders every family deals with some sort of issue, yet these issues are pushed behind closed doors and not talked about. That silence kills. It tells those who are suffering that there is something wrong with having a disease and that if they seek help they shouldn't talk about it. Silence kills.
Within my lifetime cancer was a disease that had a stigma attached to it. That stigma barrier began to break down and now there are public campaigns to increase research to cure the diseases.
In Canada the stigma of mental health is starting to be addressed publicly with campaigns like the Bell Let's Talk movement that is working to break the silence.
While suicides will not disappear completely being able to discuss one's illness without fear may decrease those deaths. Depression is a disease. There is nothing to be ashamed about if you have depression. So let's talk about it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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