Thursday 12 December 2019

Depressive illness is not normal 'life'

Level-headed look at suicide

Madam –Emer O'Kelly makes some valid points in her article "Cruel loss of life should cause us to be outraged" (Sunday Independent, January 20, 2013), but she also shows a complete lack of empathy and understanding for people who suffer from mental distress.

To state as she does that "depression, temporary or otherwise, is usually deemed to be the cause of suicide", is complete nonsense. It is widely accepted that the causes of suicide are complex – as Donal Lynch says in his article, "The riddle of suicide cannot be reduced to a one-word answer," on the same page.

She also belittles people who seek help for their depression through medication or therapy. Again she shows no understanding of the help that people can derive from either of these approaches.

However, her two most offensive statements are "a lot of the time... what people describe as depressive illness should merely be called life", and "suicide can be an act of selfishness". Under any stretch of the imagination, severe depression could never be described as the normal ups and downs of life. To describe people who, for whatever reason, are driven to take the tragic step of suicide as "selfish" really is an insult to their memory. Unless you have been to the edge, you really have no understanding of someone's thinking while in this state of mind.

Thomas Roddy,


Sunday Independent

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