Health And Wellness

Powerful Photos Of People Contemplating Suicide Prove Depression Has No Face

Photo: Fo_De | Shutterstock
sad teenager looking in mirror

Over the past year, I spent time not only scrolling through my personal feed on social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram but also typing in search parameters for one very specific hashtag: #faceofdepression.

Under this hashtag, people who have been affected by depression share images of themselves and their loved ones in an effort to change the way in which we think about depression and the way it "looks".

Seeing these images of others always, always, always, strikes a chord.

Depression is, after all, an invisible disease.

You could scroll through my own social media accounts and carefully analyze each photograph for proof of how the malady affects me and still never be able to see it for yourself.

There I am, smiling.

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There I am, making a funny face.

There I am, eating with friends... or enthusiastic on the top of a mountain... or with my hands raised triumphantly in the air.

You see me and you see my life, but you don't see my depression.

This may sound glib, but the way a person presents themselves to the world has very little to do with what's actually going on beneath their surface.

When you're depressed, you might feel like a haggard crone or a mere shadow of your former self, but you can hide all of that and go out into the world with a fake smile plastered on your face.

And that's what makes depression so deadly.

That man grinning while kayaking with his girlfriend may choose to end his own life the following week. The sweet pre-teen mugging for his mother's camera may die by suicide that evening.

The fact that depression hides as well as it does is part of what makes it so terrifying.

For me, the images and videos of Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington, taken just days before he died and shared by his wife Talinda as part of her own effort to #MakeChesterProud and say #effdepression were among the most striking.

That's not because they are so different from any of the other heart-wrenching photos and stories out there, but because of how aching clear they make it that someone can be smiling and laughing authentically with their family one day — and dead by their own hands the next.

I'm really happy we live in an age and in a country where the conversation about mental illness is evolving.

I believe fewer people feel afraid to come forward when they're struggling now, but that doesn't mean the problem is solved. People still take their own lives due to the horrible monster that is depression.

However, the more time we take to talk about this insidious epidemic, the safer the world can feel to a person who is fighting themselves for their life. It's one of those seemingly small things that can make a larger difference than you'll ever know.

And while September might be over, the battle for people with depression doesn't end when the month changes.

Keep on fighting. We're here and we're listening.

RELATED: My Mother Died From Passive Suicide

Here are powerful photos of people contemplating suicide to prove depression has no face:

1. The woman enjoying a picnic on a stunning day, three days before she tried to drown herself

"Three days before I tried to drown myself in the bathtub #faceofdepression"

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2. The sparkling Jewel with a beaming face and a beautiful soul to match

3. The former beauty queen turned successful physician who seems to have it ALL

"Here is a #faceofdepression. This was taken during one of my life's most difficult times. Would you have known? I am a devout Catholic, a physician, a former Miss Alabama, a loving daughter, a sister, and a dog mom. I

have what the world considers the most desirable of lives on the outside, but only those close to me know my tender heart, what makes me human and humbles me.

I recently lost a colleague to suicide, thought about losing myself, and help patients struggling with depression every day in the ED. Please consider walking with us Sunday, November 5th. Click the link to donate and help save lives. #unashamed #stopthestigma This is my 3rd cousin... God Bless You, Amanda!"

Please remember that there are several options if you or someone you know needs help dealing with an immediate crisis. Call 911 if you think a family member may harm themselves or others.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others.