This is not a post that I planned to write. But it’s one that I was compelled to write.
About a dozen years ago, I met with my insurance agent to discuss my policy and to see if any changes needed to be made.
During the visit, he told me about a life insurance policy that was available for people in my age range that was at a low price.
I had life insurance through my employer, but I liked the idea of having extra insurance that I would have regardless of where I was employed, so I filled out the application.
I had to include health information on the application. I was a bit concerned because I had been going through tests to determine if I had asthma, and I had just learned that I indeed had the lung disorder.
On a return visit, my insurance agent told me that I didn’t qualify for the low-cost version of the insurance.
“Is it because of the asthma?” I asked.
He seemed uncomfortable when he spoke.
“No, it’s because of the depression,” he said.
Up to that moment, I had not thought about the effects depression might have on my future health. I had not thought about how others might judge my future health based on my having depression.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website, one risk of suicide is “depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors.”
Also according to the NIMH website, people’s physical health can be affected by depression: “People who have depression along with another medical illness tend to have more severe symptoms of both depression and the medical illness, more difficulty adapting to their medical condition, and more medical costs than those who do not have co-existing depression. Treating the depression can also help improve the outcome of treating the co-occurring illness.”
And in online reports here and here on studies on life expectancy, I learned that the average life expectancy for people with mental illnesses may be lower than those without mental illness.
Why am I writing about this? Over the weekend, I learned about the suicide of a son of Rick Warren, a well-known evangelical pastor and author. According to one news report, his son had suffered from depression for years. He had received treatment, but he killed himself.
I’m not sure why reading about this young man’s suicide affected me like it did, why it turned my thoughts to my own battle with depression and to others with depression who have suffered so much. I didn’t know him. I know who his father is and I’ve read one of his books. That’s about the extent of my connection.
But the suicide of anyone is tragic. The loss of a person to suicide shouldn’t happen.
I don’t know the details of Matthew Warren’s life.
I’m not a counselor or therapist or expert or medical professional.
I’m someone with depression.
And I know this: depression is dangerous. It is serious. It is not to be taken lightly.
I know something else. I am better off today than I was before treatment.
Treatment can help people with depression. There is always the hope of getting better. Suicide is never the answer.
If you have symptoms of depression, please get help from a professional. Please don’t ignore it or try to self-treat.
And please, if you or someone you know is suicidal, reach out for help. If you don’t know who to reach out to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).