Depression comes to us all at different times in our lives. For some, the despondency is so severe that thoughts of taking one’s own life become a real possibility. Suicidal thoughts and actions occur to all ages and come to individuals of all socioeconomic strata.
As we look from the outside upon those whom we know have taken their own lives, concerning one person we may think, “I am not totally surprised. She was living with alcohol, drugs and an abusive relationship. Her life was spiraling out of control.” Yet concerning another we may say, “I just can’t believe it. He seemed to have it all: excellent job, wife and children, nice home. This is a total shock to me.” Following are just a few profiles of persons who might consider self-destruction.
The middle school student is disfigured on one side of his face by burns he suffered when he was younger. One classmate in particular taunts him, but out of the sight of the teacher. He feels different and shut out. He wakes up every morning with his stomach churning as he searches for some excuse not to have to go to school.
The teen-age girl returned to school after having been in a rehabilitation program for substance abuse. She seemed to be recovered but slipped back into partying with friends and became pregnant. She has a sense of utter despair when she thinks of having a child.
A wife of many years is told by her husband that he is not happy, he no longer wants to be married to her, and he is filing for divorce. She feels herself overwhelmed with shock and grief.
A man in mid-career is told he has cancer. Though treatment will be started, the disease is so far advanced that the prognosis is not good. He has experienced the death of family members and contemplates his own journey into the unknown.
All of these persons find themselves falling into an unlighted, fathomless pit. And to each one, the situation seems hopeless. They are ready to give up on life, feeling their existence is too painful to endure any longer.
In my poem SUNRISE HOPE I don’t attempt to offer simplistic answers for such complex issues; but, rather, I want to ask that if you or I are the depressed individual that we try to look toward the coming of the next day and the promise it brings. Our view of the rising sun doesn’t have to be that spectacular gilded sphere against a pristine beach and a far-reaching sea that comes to our minds like what is painted by an artist. Out our back door over our neighbor’s fence the appearance of the face of the morning is still able to bring an awareness of renewal and hope.
If we are family, friends, colleagues or even casual acquaintances of the depressed individual, let’s step out of our scheduled lives and go do something with him or her. It doesn’t have to be a big “something.” The depressed individual is in a state of immobility, barely able to put one foot in front of the other to take a step. Just knowing that you care enough that you are going to come to be physically with that person may be enough to stave off dark thoughts, at least for a season.
I trust the message of SUNRISE HOPE may speak to your heart.
As the earth gives way to darkness
And I shiver in its cold,
Frosty fingers of despair and grief
Rip my flesh and seize my soul;
But crouched alone in silence
There’s a covenant I know:
Beyond the night of doom and death
A rising sun will spread its gold.
I feel dawning’s expectation
When the heavens turn ablaze,
Pushing blackness into its retreat,
Chasing tears and fears away.
My hands and heart I lift up–
Sunrise hope has come to save!
I’m no longer bare in the pit of night
But clothed in brightness of the day.
Sunrise hope . . .
is hope fulfilled by light of day.
Sunrise hope . . .
Is doubt and dread pushed away.
With praise of earth which promises morning,
There’s renewal in its dawn
That stirs my doubting, planted feet
With courage to move on.
A Poem of Trust in the Coming Day
Connie Carlisle Polley, 2018
I would love to hear your thoughts about the prevalence of depression and suicide in our society. Or perhaps you would like to leave a few words in memoriam for a family member or friend you have lost to this dark plague. If so, feel free to comment below.