September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

The Face of Depression
Face of Depression

Depression is heartbreaking.

In an affluent Cleveland Ohio suburb, depression caused a father and husband to kill his wife and their two children, 15-year old twins, a boy and a girl, in an apparent murder-suicide.

In another nearby city, the same thing happened, only this time three children were killed.

And in yet another incident, a depressed young mother took her life after she killed her 4 year-old daughter.

It’s so sad to think of what the last moments of those who died must have been like.

For one person it was choice, but for the others, the final and catastrophic decision was made for them by a loved one. They had no say in the decision that took their life.

A Deadly Combination of Factors

People are suffering from anxiety and stress at unprecedented levels. Look at what we are dealing with now. A pandemic, social isolation, dwindling finances, uncertain housing, unpaid bills, racial tension, global unrest, increasing violence, hostility and domestic violence.

For people already feeling depressed, these factors are enough to push them over the edge.

Each day it seems that I hear of yet another death. The obituaries describe it as a sudden passing. And then I find out later, quietly, almost in a hushed way, that it was death by suicide.

Depression is killing people. It is a disease and the people suffering the most from this disease during these times are younger adults, essential workers and other caretakers, and members of racial minorities.

My Own Brush with Depression

People see me today as confident, content, adventurous, easy-going, and so on and so forth, but there was a time about 25 years ago when I was not feeling any of that.

But that’s what makes depression so insidious. I was suffering from it and did not know even know it.

I felt nothing dramatic. In fact, I felt “ normal.” I just didn’t quite care too much about anything. I was simply detached from everyone and everything except my family and my son. Especially my son.

I was just going through the motions and pushing through life and being present for my son. Other than that, life held no particular appeal. I could take it or leave it. No big deal.

My sisters noticed the change in my demeanor. If not for them, I don’t know what might have happened down the line. One day, they bought me a vacation package and sent me to the Bahamas.

That trip was the turning point for me. Specifically, the bus tour of Grand Bahama Island. I was looking out the window and listening to the tour guide saying something about a house formerly owned by Sammy Davis.

But I wasn’t interested in all of that. What captured my attention, and held me enthralled, was the sun’s play of light on the passing scenery, including the flowers, trees, grass and even the ground. Nature.

I distinctly remember the sensation of a shifting within me, sort of like a load being lifted. Without a doubt, I knew that everything was going to be okay. Because in that moment, I reconnected with what I call my core. The core of who I am.

That reconnection was exactly the impetus I needed to put me back on the right path for me.

So when I got back home, I made an appointment to see a doctor who diagnosed me as being clinically depressed. He prescribed some medication and recommended talk therapy. I was okay with taking medicine for awhile and after some time, I was able to discontinue the medication, and have never needed it again.

These are particularly challenging times

Depression and death by suicide are on the rise.

I never felt suicidal. Not ever. But I think I have an idea of how easy it could be for a person to lose all interest to live. 

Notice when someone you know is behaving in a way that causes you a little prickle of anxiety when you think of them. Listen to your gut instinct. You may sense that something is wrong even before it becomes apparent. Say or do something even if outward impressions indicate otherwise. 

Many people who are depressed hide it well. They hide behind a facade because they may feel like a failure and are ashamed, because let’s face it, society often looks upon mental illness as some sort of stigma. 

Sometimes a depressed or suicidal person is someone you’d never suspect. It is someone who seems to have it all together. 

So if you feel that someone is in trouble, don’t second-guess yourself. Depression is a sneaky adversary. It lulls people into complacency.

Talk to the person. It’s okay to ask how they are feeling, probe a little even, and listen to what is being said, and more importantly, listen to what is not being said. Just listen and absolutely do not judge or try to tell them not to feel the way that they are feeling. 

Reach out to someone. It may make all the difference. Here are some resources to be aware of and to share if necessary.

Call: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1–800–273–8255 (1–800–273-TALK). For Deaf and Hard of Hearing: via TTY 1–800–799–4889

Text: Text “Hello” to 741741



Mary Oluonye.

I am a writer and entrepreneur and my goal is to inspire self-value, promote Africa, and help people achieve their goals. 

I am deeply committed to inspiring my people to better respect and value who we are as Africans & People of African Descent.