- What keeps many from sinking deeper into depression is the knowledge that their situation can change in an instant.
- At this time of year, being aware of how the people we love are feeling is even more important than usual.
- Why do suicide rates go up in the summer? It may be that the days are longer than in the winter, and this can be hard for some.
Most suicides do not take place during the winter holidays, as most people think, but happen toward the end of July and in August. At this time of year, being aware of how the people we love are feeling is even more important than usual. It’s not enough just to say something if you see something; you may have to be the one to give someone a ride to the doctor’s office. One observation and one action can save a life, maybe several lives.
Why do suicide rates go up in the summer? It's not clear. But my thinking is that the days are much longer than in the winter, and this can be hard if you are depressed. Of course, seasonal affectiveness disorder is just the opposite: People become depressed without enough light or time outdoors in the winter. But for some who suffer from depression year-round, bedtime may be the best part of the day, and having to stay up later gives them too much time to ruminate on their internal pain. It is also one of the reasons alcohol and drug use increase in the summer.
You can be depressed without being suicidal—millions of people are—but if you are having suicidal thoughts and have the means and a plan, you are in danger. You can call 1-800-273-TALK and reach someone who'll listen at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Help really is just 11 digits away.
I sometimes suffer from depression, but what keeps me from sinking deeper is the knowledge that my outlook can change in a New York minute. The phone can ring, an email can come, or someone will apologize to you or acknowledge your value. This is true for all of us.
With the pandemic, things have gotten worse for many people who are depressed. Loneliness is also at an epidemic level, and that kind of heartache can lead you to think that the world would be just fine without you, which is a lie. You add to the fabric of society and are important simply because you care. You also matter to others, even if you don’t think you do. Maybe it’s just the computer technician you talk to once a month or a delivery person, but you do matter to them.
Someone I hardly knew from my office building died of COVID. We used to say hello when we passed by each other, and maybe we would talk about boats for a few minutes. It was not a deep relationship, but he mattered to me, and his loss is something I feel. There are people who have feelings like that for you as well; you just don’t know it or maybe can’t feel it right now.
Suicide is not an answer. It’s just a way to quit feeling. Even if your feelings aren’t good, they are a reminder that you are alive. As long as you are breathing, you can change your situation and your attitude. You may need to reach out for a little help, but more is available than ever before, so what are you waiting for?