ONE of Orange’s former councillors has shown tremendous courage by sharing his experience of depression in the wake of Robin Williams’ death.
Peter Hetherington’s message is particularly poignant for Australian society because of our well-meaning tendency to take a “snap out of it, she’ll be right” point of view.
On average, one in five women and one in eight men will experience depression at some stage in their lives.
Despite depression’s wide reach in society, we often don’t take the time to look for what we don’t understand - why wouldn’t a mother be overjoyed at the birth of her baby?
Why would a grandfather miss his granddaughter’s third birthday party without explanation?
Why won’t a son take the medication he should know will help him?
Why would a person surrounded by loving family feel the need to leave the world?
Too often, the first thought following a tragic event such as this is, “I never thought they would actually do it.”
The passing of Robin Williams shows it can happen to the best and brightest of us if not caught in time.
If, as Mr Hetherington says, depression does not let up no matter whose company a person might be in, or what the time of day might be, then telling them to snap out of it is simply counterproductive.
Never has it been more important to show our families and friends they are loved, appreciated and most importantly, never alone.
But it is also crucial in the whirlwind of life to take the time to look a little deeper for the warning signs.
Mr Hetherington’s story proves no matter how hopeless the situation may seem, loved ones have a potentially lifesaving role to play.
Anyone needing help should call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours).
For more information about depression and anxiety, visit beyondblue.org.au.