So surrounded, but so alone

Published 10:46 am Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Depression is not a disease that can be easily detected, in fact, most people that suffer from depression don’t even know it. The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 13 percent of men in the United States suffer from clinical depression, unbeknownst to about half.

This week, my high school and alma mater each lost a community member to suicide stemming from depression. It came as a complete shock in both cases, and there were no warning signs until it was too late.

cartoonOne was a family friend, who I’ve known for about ten years — he and my brother were in the same graduating class and played on several sports teams together. Like many members of the small community that I grew up in, his family struggled financially, which ultimately led him to get a full-time job the second he received his diploma.

The other was a highly-successful wrestler and walk-on defensive lineman at The Ohio State University, and while I did not know him personally, we shared a number of mutual friends. He was expected to compete at an all-conference level in the upcoming wrestling season and was set to graduate in the spring with a degree in human development and family science.

At only 22-years-old, both were pronounced dead due to self-inflicted gunshot wounds on Sunday afternoon. They led two completely different lives, but suffered from the same damning disease.

One was hoping to get custody of his young daughter, while the other was getting ready for the biggest game of his collegiate career. One was an introverted person and spent most of his nights alone, while the other was partying and jumping in a freezing lake with thousands of his classmates just hours before his disappearance.

Depression doesn’t care how successful you’ve been or how many friends you have. It doesn’t care how old you are or with what race you identify. There’s no rhyme or reason that you can be completely surrounded by so many people, but feel so utterly alone.

Those who suffer from depression are not weak and not seeking attention; they’re fighting a battle with the scariest thing on earth.

The inability to communicate about their respective bouts with depression was what took these two from us at such an early age, but instead of condemning them for their actions, let us use this as an opportunity to inform others about this terrible disease.

It’s not easy to recognize depression, even in our own lives. If you ever feel like harming yourself, know that there is always someone willing to listen. If you cannot confide in your family or friends, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you take the time to share your story, you’ll find out that you’re truly not alone.

ANDREW LIND is a staff writer at The Tidewater News. Contact him at either 562-3187 or