1 in 5


1 in 5.

It’s been a number that has been ringing in my head this week.

1 in 5.

If you believe the statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association,and there is no reason not too, 1in 5 Canadians suffer from some form of mental illness. Maybe it’s depression. Maybe it’s anxiety. Maybe it’s behaviour or substance abuse.

Let’s put this in perspective.

As you scroll down your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest feed, 1 in 5 people’s status could suffer from a mental illness.

Of the people that you might have an online debate with, 1 in 5 could be suffering from a mental illness.

When you are at work,1 in 5 of your colleagues could be suffering from a mental illness.

When you are at the bar or the pub, 1 in 5 of the crowd could be suffering from some sort of mental illness.

If you are a church goer, 1 in 5 people in your church could be suffering from a mental illness. This by the way, will include the pastor, the ushers and the worship band.

We were all impacted this week by the sudden death by Robin Williams. A very talented, gifted actor and comedian, with apparently from us on the outside, wax successful and rich. We were shocked to learn it was death by suicide. We expressed our condolences, reflected on his great movie’s and TV Shows and honoured his talent.

Then a blog was written by someone that angered, hurt and deeply offended many people about depression and suicide. You know who it is. I’m not going to talk about it, because it is not the point of this conversation.

There was debate about solutions, choices and options. There were also many posts about mental illness this week. Here were a couple of things that stuck with me.

The first on is that depression is not discriminatory. It can happen to any of us, no matter the social status. There were many comments about how money cannot buy you happiness. If that is your thought, then I highly suggest you educate yourself on mental illness.

The second one might make you feel uncomfortable.

It is estimated that there are approximately 3,500 death by suicides in Canada. That averages out to 9.5 a day. Let’s put this in perspective.

The day before Robin Williams passed, it was possible that up to 9 people died by suicide.

The day that Robin Williams passed, it was possible that up to 9 people died by suicide.

The day after Robin Williams passed, it was possible that up to 9 people died by suicide.

I have to ask if there was any moving tributes or thoughts about that on social media this week?

Something else. The Distress Centre reported that there was a 6-7 percent increase in calls from people considering suicide this week. On Tuesday, they reported 200 calls about considering suicide.

There could be a number of theories as to why that is. However, remember this.
The Distress Centre takes calls like this every day. 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Including Christmas. The day before Robin Williams passed. The day of Robin Williams passing. The day after Robin Williams passing.

They will also take calls on suicide when this story becomes a distant memory.

I’m not an expert on this topic at all. I’m learning and continuing to educate myself on this issue. The main thing I’m learning is that there is lots to learn. And as much as we can tell someone to cheer up pray more, eat better, or look on the bright side of live, I’m learning this issue is much more complex.

I do think that the conversation around this needs safety, security and respect. There was a time I brought the topic in this thread and it came off very offensive. For that, I’m sorry.

However, this leads me to some questions.

I’m wondering how does topic move from something that we talk about when this happens to a person of stature to reminding people to be aware that mental illness is a real daily issue?

I’m also wondering how we help people be aware of others. How do we remind people that there is more to us than what you see? And there is power in connecting?

I also wonder how us in the blogosphere can move this topic to a respectful, kind, open, dialogue?

How does the 1 in 5 continue to resonate with us?

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