Health Class: You Are Not Alone

Julianna French

If you go on social media or watch/read the news, then there’s the chance that you’ve heard about how, in 2016, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota completed one of the rarest surgeries in the world. They performed a face transplant on thirty-two year Andrew Sandness. Transplants of any kind can be difficult due to the chances that the patient will reject the donor tissue, and the usual side effects of surgery such as infection. Face transplants can up the difficulty due to the complexity of the face. Now, back to Andrew Sandness. When Andrew was twenty-one he suffered a gunshot wound to the face that left him disfigured. Sadly it was no hunting accident that led to the gunshot wound, but an attempted suicide.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States with 44,193 deaths a year. There’s an average of 121 completed suicides per day, and an average of twenty-five attempted suicides for every completed suicide. In Minnesota, people die by suicide at a rate five times higher than those who die from homicide. Among those from ages 15-34, suicide is the second leading cause of death. Think about that. Think about how you’re more likely to die at your own hands than that of another. Think about how there are is such a large number of people who feel so hopeless, that they believe suicide is the only solution. Usually I can take a serious subject and make it fun to read, but there is no way to lightly talk about suicide. As I say that, I hope that no one takes it lightly when I say that the leading cause of suicide is untreated depression.

One of the reasons depression goes untreated is because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Fear, or apprehension, about admitting to any form of mental illness is common due to the way we have historically perceived those who need our help most. The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a medical illness that negatively affects how you think, feel, and even act and lasts for at least two weeks. It can cause you to experience feelings of sadness and/or lose interest in the things you once enjoyed. While there is no known singular cause of depression, there are many known symptoms that can manifest.

The National Institute of Mental Health lists the symptoms of depression. These symptoms include (but are not limited to): feelings of hopelessness and/or worthlessness, pessimism, decreased energy, changes in sleeping and/or eating habits, and/or difficulty concentrating. There are many more signs of depression, and everyone experiences them differently. Meaning the symptoms of one person may not be the same as someone else, but that there do tend to be general symptoms. If you or a friend are experiencing any of these, please seek medical help immediately.

These feelings and symptoms of depression may seem as if they’re never ending, but please know that they will go away. You can, and you will, make it through this because you are a strong individual. If you feel as if you need to talk to someone, the college offers counselors or you can call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. To quote the Doctor (Dr. Who): “In 900 years of time and space, I have never met anyone who wasn’t important.” You are important and you do matter, and if you’re suffering please know you’re not alone. We are here for you. Class dismissed.