The silent killer

Today, the footballing world was shocked and horrified to hear that Gary Speed was found dead at his home after hanging himself to death.  Police have confirmed that a 42-year-old man had been found dead and identified as Speed by his next-of-kin.

One of the reasons that everyone has been so stunned by his death is there were no indicators of a problem before his death.  He appeared on Sky Sports yesterday (I saw him and can’t quite get my head round it) and was celebrating with his friend Robbie Savage on the set of Strictly Come Dancing only a couple of weeks ago.

My heart goes out to his family, especially his wife and two sons.  Losing a family member at all is a hideous thing to go through but under these circumstances, it is inconceivable how a family can process and work their way through such a tragedy.

I have said before that I have suffered from depression and I’m not afraid or ashamed of admitting that there was a point where I came very close to carrying out the same act.  I remember carrying my cats around my flat telling them that my parents would look after them.  I remember making plans which stretched from stealing a family friend’s shotgun to overdosing to crashing my car to using it to gas myself.  The scary thing is at some of the points where I seriously entertained those plans, I was the only person who knew how ill I was.  I was at work and by and a fully functional member of society.  In reality I was suffering from very severe depression.

We have become much more accustomed to people talking of depression and the fact that up to one in every eight people is suffering from some sort of mental illness at any given time.  There is a perception that through antidepressants and a bit of therapy this illness can be cured.  And in a lot of cases a six month course od antidepressants and cognitive behavioural therapy is what is needed.  But when help is not available or a person cannot make use of it for whatever reason, the results can be catastrophic.

What people fail to see is that depression is an illness that kills. It is the biggest killer of young men between 25 and 34 years of age other than car accidents.  And yet we hear very little about that side of depression.  We do not hear about the depression that does not lift with medication or when therapy fails.  It is only when a tragedy occurs that we begin to wonder what drives a successful man with a family to kill himself.

So please, if you start to think about how best to take your own life, go to a doctor. There is no shame is depression; it is an illness, an error in a chemical in your brain.  It is not a sign of weakness. A long time ago my father told me that asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength rather than weakness and I beg all of you to remember that.

You will all know someone with depression.  They may never have told you but they will be there.  Support them, be there for them and maybe we can avoid some of the repeats of the tragedy that has happened today.

Average Josephine x

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