We Must Do Better


What a shame, a damned shame.

And shame is not a word I use frivolously in this circumstance.  Shame is, in fact, the perfect word, as it can be so accurately attributed to both sides of the battle against mental illness.  Shame is the primary external emotion suffered by those struggling with all forms of mental illness.  This entirely destructive emotion is in many ways the most damaging of all manifestations of mental illness, and far to often leads to the eventual mortality of the disease.

Shame stops those suffering from mental illness from seeking medical attention. Shame hampers sufferers ability to effectively manage their disease.  Too many people die of shame.

Shame also applies to the reaction of those not with a mental illness, but rather to their reaction to those with such.  We fear mental illness, in all of its forms, and attempt to mitigate this fear by stigmatizing those with mental illness as being weak or, in some bizarre twist of logic, un-worthy of our sympathy.   Because we fear the status of our own personal mental states (we all suffer from bouts of irrational behaviour and thoughts) we outwardly, through the attribution of shame, distance ourselves from mental illness.

I could waste words attempting to correlate mental illness to physical illness, and how we rally around one while stigmatizing the other, but why bother, we’ve all heard it.

Someone you know and respect, deeply, is suffering from mental illness, and you do not know it.

Will your behaviour promote them seeking help, or it will it allow the disease to progress to its most unfortunate (but avoidable) outcome?

Rest in peace Rick, we, as a society, failed you, but we can do better…we must do better.

Canadian Suicide Hotlines.

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