Break down the root cause of an individual’s depression, but avoid comparing generational struggles.
On Friday, for the first time ever, I listened to The Nick Taliaferro Show on 900amWURD.com, Pennsylvania’s only black talk radio outlet.
I tuned in because my collaborator, Flood the Drummer®, has a 6:30pm segment entitled #TheWeekThatWas where he reviews all the stories his news and event company, Techbook Online, publishes in a seven day time span.
One of the stories last week was penned by me. It was about the growing number of suicides within the black community and in the article I recapped a teen summit in Chicago where I gave the keynote address.
Mr. Taliaferro’s question was one that I heard before, as people tend to usually compare past struggles when talking about depression and suicides.
But that line of questioning, in my opinion, prevents us from gaining understanding about the particular situations that human beings go through.
Our focus, if we want to save lives, should be breaking down the root cause of an individual’s depression.
We all come from various backgrounds and have experiences that differ from our neighbors. And it’s those experiences that shape our individuality.
The individuality I speak of was on display during the teen summit held at my alma mater, Northern Illinois University.
One young man told me that he has been hearing “You ain’t sh*t” from his loved ones since he was 5. Now at age 16, he’s depressed because he believes those three words define his life.
A young woman spoke about being picked on because her skin is perceived as too dark.
Her peers would often say she didn’t deserve to live and that her future was as dark as her skin. She believed it; she believed it so much so that she searched for ways to bleach her skin. After awhile, she felt like her life was a mistake, so she used every day to try and right her parents’ wrong.
That moment, and moments like it, remind me that generational comparisons—and even the comparing of life experiences—have no place in conversations that aim to mitigate depression and suicidal tendencies.
The focus should be solely on saving a life by extending a helping hand and an open ear.
When we take time to listen—and listen for understanding not just to respond—all of our question will be answered.
Don’t allow your light to be hindered or an opportunity squandered by focusing on the wrong thing when presented with the opportunity to save a life.
*Tune into www.TheDrVibeShow.com on 8/22/15 to hear various thought-leaders and I discuss mental health and suicide prevention*
Thanks for reading!