One in five Americans suffered from a mental illness in 2009. Less than forty percent of the mentally ill received treatment for whatever disorder they had--the disorders in the survey ranged from unipolar depression, to bipolar depression, to schizophrenia.
The survey found a strong link between mental health problems and alcoholism and drug abuse. Mental illness was also more likely among the unemployed, young adults and women. Overall, more than 8 million had serious thoughts of suicide, and 1 million tried to carry them out.
I've also read that as many as twenty percent of patients with Bipolar Disorder either try to commit suicide or succeed—and I definitely use the word succeed with a hint of bitter irony—in killing themselves. That number is dwindling as more support becomes available.
Those who are fortunate enough not to have Bipolar Disorder or another mental illness have a tougher time understanding what’s it’s like to feel suicidal; in my experience, anger is a common reaction from friends and loved ones when those who are feeling suicidal try to reach out for help. It's almost as if they are scared by the very mention of the “S-word”.
When I’m feeling well, which is fortunately more of the time than not, it’s also hard for me to remember how I felt when I was feeling suicidal or how to imagine what could have led me to reach that point. Although I tried to express myself to many people when I was feeling suicidal, I felt like no one could understand what I was going through at the time. Eventually, my doctor and I found a medication that worked in conjunction with my other meds that slowly brought me back to the land of the living.
I am very fortunate to have an understanding family. Not everyone is so lucky.
If you’re feeling suicidal, medical attention is necessary whether you try an alternative route or a route using more pharmaceutical drugs. Although there are a multitude of coping strategies to try, sometimes the results can be temporary or not enough to combat severe depression. Bipolar Disorder is a serious illness and needs to be treated as one. Although I sometimes joke about my illness, the illness itself is no joke and can wreak havoc on people’s lives.
Because of the Internet and social networking groups like Facebook, there is a lot more support for people with Bipolar Disorder and depression. If you are feeling suicidal, please get help from a doctor, a suicide prevention hotline, and/or online from a support group of people with Bipolar Disorder. Hang in there, and remember that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Image courtesy of flckr user dickuhne.