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The Omerta of Depression

Posted 8:33 AM ET | Comments 0
We've heard it before. We reacted the same each and every time.
It may have been a family member, friend, co-worker, or anyone in our lives.
You hear stories about the son of so-and-so who was found hanging in the kitchen, or whats-her-name's dad turned the car on in the garage and went to sleep.
Every time the reaction is the same.

Yet, it keeps happening.

We have lost 3 sports figures in one off-season and for each of the 3 times us in the public domain have said the same things. "Tragic, so sad, etc."

There is a much bigger issue than coincidence here, and it is prominent in the testosterone-fueled sports world.

We are a society of perfection in today's world. Body image issues run rampant in pre-teens, eating disorders. I find it difficult to teach our children right and wrong when advertisers promote the latter.

Hence, we have a stigma of silence when it comes to mental health. This begs the most simplistic of questions - why?

I can speak from 10 years of darkened experience on the issue of depression. I am a 25 year old musician and "working joe" who has been haunted by demons since my early-teens. It took me 9 years, and hitting the proverbial rock bottom to finally walk into my doctor's office and admit I was sick.

Now, in the cases of 2 out of 3 (and probably 3 of 3) of the young hockey players we have lost this year, we have depression. An illness diagnosed after the fact. It should NOT require a loss of a life to figure this out.

The so-called "manliness" in sports has trumped admitting mental defeat, and because of this ridiculous standard we have lost 3 men before their 40th birthdays.

When you have a cold, you get medicine. When you break your leg, you get a cast and crutches. You take vitamins every day to maintain your health. You exercise to stay in shape. Why is mental health lost in this?

We have kids staring at themselves in the mirror and pondering how much it would actually hurt to slit their wrists. They are sworn to an unfair code of silence on mental health.

I am speaking from experience when I say talking about it was the best decision of my life, and the weight off my shoulders has been huge. It is absolute tragedy to think that the 3 lost lives this summer could have been easily prevented by the individuals dropping the stigma and admitting an illness.

I am pleading with everyone who reads this - just talk.
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