Suicide: Hiding Depression in Plain Sight.

Via on Mar 18, 2014

suicide note

Thanks to the endless snow which has blanketed most of the East Coast, I was home from work today when I logged onto my computer and learned that celebrity designer and stylist L’Wren Scott was found dead in her apartment on Monday at the age of 49.

Apparently, Ms. Scott, who was also known for being the long-term girlfriend of rocker Mick Jagger, died of an apparent suicide by hanging herself from a doorknob.

Almost immediately the gossip sites began to speculate what would drive her to commit such an act. Some suggested that it might be due to financial woes. (It was said that her design company had failed to turn a profit since its launch in 2006 and had debts around $6 million.) It was also rumored that perhaps there were problems in her personal relationship with Jagger.

Honestly, I have no idea nor do I feel comfortable speculating about any of that. However, it’s safe to say that for her to have taken her own life, Ms. Scott’s life wasn’t as charmed as it appeared to the public and to her Instagram followers.

Even though I didn’t know her I cannot help but feel tremendous empathy for her loved ones, who are not only dealing with the blow of her sudden passing but probably wondering if there was something they could have done to prevent her suicide.

As someone who has had severe depression and lost two people in my life to suicide, I have been on both sides.

When I was an undergraduate in college, I suffered a bout of depression which lasted nearly a year. At my absolute lowest I was so convinced that the world would be a better place without me that I even wrote detailed instructions as to how I wanted my possessions distributed after I was gone.

Luckily, I had during that time what can only be described as a moment of clarity and sought out the professional treatment that I needed. (In my case, my life was saved thanks to a combination of medication and therapy.) However, no one—not my roommate/best friend or even my then-boyfriend—had any idea that anything was going on.

To the outside, I appeared to be thriving.

I achieved a near perfect GPA that semester and was active in a variety of on and off-campus activities. I also held down a part-time job. In short, I defied the usual stereotype that one has of someone who is isolated and failing at everything they attempt.

While some people who attempt or commit suicide may fit that stereotype, many others are good at hiding at their pain and will go out of their way to appear happy and normal because they don’t want to worry friends and loved ones or worse, feel like a “burden” to them. (At least, that was true in my case.)

While suicide has often been called the ultimate selfish act, the truth is that in most cases, both those who contemplate it and those who actually go through with it believe that it is the least selfish thing they can for those who care about them.

The thinking is, “At least they’ll no longer have to worry about me anymore.”

If it sounds irrational, it’s supposed to: depression is an illness, and like many ill people, a depressed person’s mind is not working at 100 percent.

Still, though I know from my own experience how it feels to be that low, I also know what it is like to lose someone to suicide and I immediately ask, “What could I have done to prevent this?” Even when we know there is nothing we could have done and there is nothing to feel guilty about, that feeling still lingers. Sometimes it never goes away.

In any case, one thing that is worth noting is that several friends, family members and clients of L’Wren Scott describe her as “strong” as well as a generally kind and generous person. I have no doubt she was. Sadly, though, some of the strongest and kindest people aren’t able to be strong and kind to the person who deserves it the most: themselves.

In closing, my heart goes out to Ms. Scott as well as the other estimated 104 people each day in the US alone who decide to end their lives.

If any good can come out of this, I hope that it will bring more attention to this problem as well as shatter stereotypes of how a would-be suicide victim acts and presents themselves. It’s also my wish that those who are at the point where they are consider taking their lives will seek out the treatment they need and get some idea how dearly they would be missed.

While undoubtedly a celebrity’s suicide will always get more attention than a private citizen’s, the feelings of shock, loss and grief are the same. This is one “club” that no one should ever be a member of and fortunately, does not need to be if proper help is sought.

 

 

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Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photo: saccharinesmile/Deviant-art Creative Commons

About Kimberly Lo

Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.

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15 Responses to “Suicide: Hiding Depression in Plain Sight.”

  1. Samantha says:

    For a second I thought I wrote this… my struggle with depression and the loss of two people in my life to suicide is almost identical to yours. It's truly unfortunate how many people see it as a selfish act and don't/can't understand a suicidal persons state of mind… we however get it because we've been there… the best we can do is continue to raise awareness and shatter stereotypes. Well written article, i appreciate that you added in statistics, because it's crazy how many people don't realize the number of people that die by suicide EACH DAY!

    • Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I am sorry for your loss and struggles. There are so many of us out there that have either lost someone and/or thought of suicide at one point.

      Blessings,

      Kim

  2. Thank you for writing this. ~Rebecca

  3. Rita says:

    I lost my youngest brother to suicide one year ago…and that is true…nobody was able to read the signals of his state of mind…he was always thought to be a very strong and secure young man…who had recently started to run the family business and even got married two months before the events…so…yes..I went to visit my hometown for his wedding and then just two months after…for his funeral. The enterprise he was in charge of was not on it's best moment and had financial issues…but nothing that couldn't be fixed with some help…but he couldn't reach out for help…and apparently he started having certain symptoms of being afraid of things that were normal for him before…like…he didn't want to go out without his car…he just felt to insecure to walk without a shield I guess…in the end he shot himself inside his car…what actually was the sole material thing he owned. I was mad at him after this happened, specially because we had also lost my oldest brother partner through cancer just 5 months before and we felt betrayed for someone that didn't respected life in opposition to someone who was in need to every second of the life he just throw away. He left behind a 2 years old kid from a previous union, his wife…how hadn't even packed her wedding dress yet…and his parents who where blaming themselves for loading him with too much responsibility…It is really difficult not to see it as an act of cowardly and selfishness…I'm still struggling not to…and see it as an act of impotence and fear…as the only way out someone severely depressed can visualize and embrace…Thanks for the article and helping me to move one step more into understanding…

    • Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what it must be like for you, his children, his wife, etc. Here's hoping you and your entire family can find peace.

      Much love,

      Kim

  4. Samantha says:

    Can you remove “from a doorknob” ? Pretty please? Thank you love!!

  5. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for writing this. We lost our son to suicide in January. He had to escape the pain and the demons that were in his head. I miss him everyday and have so many unanswered questions. It does help me to read articles like this.

    • Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

      Dear Rebecca,

      As a parent, I cannot imagine how hard it this must be. I am glad this article helped even it was only in the smallest of ways.

      Thought to you and your entire family.

  6. Ann says:

    Such an insightful article. I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for many years but it was my 14 year old son who took his own life. Since he died people often tell me how strong I am,if only they knew what went on inside my head.

    • Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

      Dear Ann,

      Wow. I am so sorry. I wish I could say or do more.

      Blessing to you and your entire family.

      Much love,

      Kim

  7. David says:

    Beautifully written and, for me, describes it perfectly. I was suicidal 5 years ago and to me it seemed perfectly rational that my wife would be better off without me. Nobody else had a clue that I was depressed never mind suicidal as I was holding down a good job and putting on a face to the outside world.

    • Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

      Dear David,

      Many of us who have struggled with depression have become master actors at hiding it.

      I am glad you are still here.

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