July 23, 2008
I have a friend who has confronted severe depression for more than four years and has attempted suicide several times. Perhaps you think that's unusual? Not so. There are many sources for checking statistics on both depression and suicide ... but no matter where you find your statistics, they'll present a grim picture.
One source said 18.8 million U.S. adults suffer from "depressive disorders" and that 9.5 percent of the U.S. population over 18 does. That source said the rate among children is 23 percent.
Another source said that more than 32,000 people in the U.S. die from suicide each year. It's the fourth leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 65. And an attempt at suicide is made once a minute while one person in the U.S. dies by suicide every 16 minutes.
Depression is all around us. We've hidden it away for so long and attached such stigma to this that many people don't talk about it. Perhaps we in the church can change that. One brave soul, Glenndy Ose, briefly shared her story with readers of The Lutheran in "Where's my Easter?"
The good news for my friend is that she is experiencing a miracle: She's beginning to feel like living again. She's reconnecting with the God she knew loved her but from whom she's felt distanced for so long. She is feeling life stir within her again. She sent an e-mail to some of her friends describing this change. I wept as I sat at my computer reading about this miracle, wept for what she has suffered these years and for what her family has experienced suffering this with her—and wept for joy at the God of second, third, fourth and more chances.
Do you experience depression? Or love someone who does? What would you like to see change in our church and our society to be helpful?