“Exult O shores, and ring O bells! But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.” ~ 1989 film Dead Poets Society
As Hollywood says its goodbye to Robin Williams, “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon took time out of Tuesday’s episode to remember the Oscar-winning actor. “You would watch him, and you would cry laughing, and you’d think, ‘I am never going to see anyone like this human, ever…’”
It is a tragedy that we’ve lost another actor and comedian to this disease of depression. But this is not something exclusive to Hollywood, it just highlighted by the fact that it was a notable person. As with many diseases it takes the notable person’s death and life to realize its devastation and the toll it takes on someone’s life and other who surround them.
The tribute quote that Fallon had for Williams, could have come from anyone of us who paid tribute to a close relative or friend whose life was controlled by depression and overcome by suicide.
Perhaps it’s not the depression but the tragic means to the end that finds this even more disconcerting. The desperation that one must feel for them to take their life. It’s not just actors or athletes or business executives who in their effort to relieve the pain or end the agony that torments their mind, but individuals like sisters and brothers, coworkers and collogues, friends and neighbors. We know them and cherish them. And then we say to ourselves, “I didn’t realize how desperate they were, if only I knew. Could I have helped?”
Over the course of the last few months NFPA has posted blogs and published articles (The Journal – May/June 2014) on this despicable disease. Recently, a local Boston newspaper ran this article and this one noting public safety and emergency services persons with noteworthy careers succumbing to depression but means of suicide.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline notes the in 2010 there were 38,364 suicides in the United States. That’s an average of 105 each day. Suicide Prevention Resource Center has information at its website and specifically points to public safety servants as one of its targeted audiences.
So now we are aware all too soon again of the tragedy of depression. What are we going to do about it this time?
"O Captain! My Captain!"