This was the headline of an article posted on Facebook by WPXI news in Pittsburgh. (Link here https://www.facebook.com/wpxi/posts/10154925399146615 )
How many of you immediately said, “Why would a 12 year old want to kill himself?” Congratulations, you are part of the stigma we’re trying to fight. Sorry to sound harsh, but it’s true. But you aren’t alone. Here are some of the comments that were posted on Facebook:
We as a society need to understand that mental health is no different than physical health. Would you ask, “Why would a 12 year old want to have diabetes?” or “Why would a 12 year old want to have cancer?” Mental health is NO DIFFERENT.
I wonder if his family and teachers thought the same thing. Did he exhibit depressive symptoms? Were any of his comments met with, “he’ll get over it”? What signs were overlooked simply because he was 12 and “too young” to be depressed?
Both physical and mental problems can occur at any time. Age, gender, race, religion….none of these matter. Look at Robin Williams. One of the funniest, wealthiest men on the planet and he died from suicide. Depression doesn’t give a shit folks.
Can we PLEASE stop thinking about what mental illness should look like? How about we pay attention to the signs and symptoms instead. Let’s listen to what is being said and not discriminate based on age.
My heart goes out to the victim’s family. In no way do I want to minimize their loss by talking about the 12 year old. As a mental health care advocate I want to focus on how the correct care for this boy could have prevented this tragedy.
The question shouldn’t be, “Why would a 12 year old want to kill himself?”, but rather, “What is going on in his life and how can we help?”