Depression affects more than one person at a time

Depression is a disease that affects the mind and can destroy the body. According to the National Suicide Prevention Line’s website, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall and over 40,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States.

Those deaths leave more than just a body behind, they can leave a permanent scar on those around the victim. Depression, substance abuse and much more can cause a person to complete suicide. However, that action can lead to incredible damage and even depression in those who knew the victim.

Senior Kendall Harbin lost one of his best friends to suicide. Harbin’s parents found his friend’s body at their lake house next to a handgun belonging to another mutual friend.

“We used to play guitar all the time,” Harbin said. “Ever since he did that, and that was almost two years ago, I haven’t played more than five times. When I sit down and play, it’s just not the same. Me and my friends, we used to play together all the time. Now we don’t because it just doesn’t feel right.”

Harbin described his friend as always a little quiet. He said his friend always looked like he was having fun when they were together, and there were never any red flags. There are obvious warning signs of depression, but some signs cannot be easily observed. Depression affects everyone differently because it affects the mind and each person’s mind works differently.

“We don’t know exactly what causes depression,” said Counselor Education department chair Quinn Pearson. “We know more about how to treat it. We don’t have the science to say exactly what causes it. We don’t know if depression causes the neurotransmitters (Serotonin, Dopamine, etc.) to get out of balance or if they get out of balance and that causes depression.”

Pearson said depression is easier to understand when thought about like a heart disease compared to a heart attack. There are warning signs for a heart attack signifying imminent dangers similar to an individual expressing openly their suicidal thoughts.

Additionally, there are risk factors that can include a history of depression or outside tragedy that can lead to suicidal thoughts and tendencies not immediately apparent, but still have a massive effect.

Sophomore Nathan Shelton lost his cousin to suicide. Shelton was in fifth grade when the event occurred.

“He was married and had one kid, and another on the way,” Shelton said. “He killed himself because he was gay and couldn’t deal with that. He was forcing it. He left a note and killed himself. That really struck a nerve with me. I was struggling with my sexuality at the time. It was pressure from the family that pushed him to that edge. And it scared me. I didn’t cry at the funeral because I was afraid they would think I was sympathizing with him instead of mourning.”

Shelton said he was diagnosed with depression and had to deal with his issues by himself out of fear of ending up like his cousin. Outside factors can play a large role in the way the brain functions.

Shelton added that is why it is so important to reach out to people who may be struggling with their own mind.