If you’re depressed, in crisis, need someone to talk to, and a judgement-free environment, please call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. You can also find them at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Remember that you’re not alone.

If you’ve become an avid fan of the podcast, you’ve been sitting around wondering why I’ve been so unreliable the last few weeks. My goal is absolutely to be a reliable daily source of news for you, and the season is now in full-swing, which means there’s definitely enough news to keep us both busy.

I want to walk you through something that is going on in my life. I work hard to make sure this show is family-friendly, so it’s important you know this show is going to touch on a tough topic: depression and suicide. If your concern is that you’re unsure if you, your family, or your children are at a place where they can listen to this, I want you to know that no age is the wrong age and no group is the wrong group. Depression touches everyone and suicide impacts more people than those who attempt it.

So, let’s do this.

Two weeks ago my cousin committed suicide. I’m going to talk candidly about it today, because I want to believe some good can come out of this and we can continue to fight the stigma around mental disorders and suicide. 

If you asked me two years ago, I’d say my family was less likely than most to succumb to depression. Not because our genetic predisposition and socioeconomic statuses have changed, but because we should have learned a better way to help each other. I don’t know much about it, but my grandfather shot himself before I was born. What I do know is that his business was struggling and he had chosen to stop taking his antidepressants. I had a great uncle (possibly also a GREAT uncle, but in this case I mean my mother’s uncle) who killed himself. He was a professor of mathematics who had started to lose himself in a battle with dementia. 

Unfortunately, the last two years have proven those moments of the past haven’t had a lasting impact on how my family deals with suicide. Another uncle of my mother’s was found dead after relapsing into old drug abuse habits. He hadn’t overdosed, but instead was found drowned in the rapids of a river in my family’s hometown. We fear he thought it was the best way to cope with his addiction. Now, this year, I have lost my cousin.

Before your immediate reaction sets in and you ask, “wow, what is wrong with Ben’s family,” I want to share some statistics with you. 

  • Each year it is estimated that one million people die from suicide. It’s estimated this will average one suicide every 20 seconds in 2020.
  • Suicide rates are up 60% in the last 45 years.
  • Men are four times more likely to die from suicide, but women are more likely to attempt an act of suicide. 
  • More than half of all suicide deaths use firearms.
  • The reason I say all ages are the right ages to talk about suicide and depression is because suicide is the second highest cause of death for age groups 10-14, 15-24, and 25-34.
  • According to the National Institutes for Mental Health, 17.3 million adults in the United States have experienced or are struggling with depression. A CDC study in 2018 estimated 1.9 million children in the US suffer from depression. 
  • It’s estimated 64% of those depression cases suffered some form of severe impairment, and 35% of depression cases go untreated.

Let’s talk about my cousin. He was 42, with a daughter, wife, parents, coworkers, teams he coached, and so many friends and other family members. He felt in that moment he had nowhere to turn, nobody to talk to, and no option but to take his life. But his service filled a room with 300 people. And those were just those who could get the day off from work, find sitters for their kids, and make the trip to the town he lived in. 

It was hard to see, because we know he had options. He had support, he was loved. People would have found the time and done anything they could for him if he had given them the opportunity.

I love our community here at WODDIY and in the greater CrossFit family. We’re supportive of each other, we hold hero and memorial workouts. We fundraise for each other and for amazing causes around the world. I know that by publishing this episode I’m going to be flooded with condolences and well-wishes. 

I want you to know I appreciate the support and I love each and every one of you. If there’s only one thing you can do for me: it’s to start a conversation with your family and talk about depression and suicide. 

It has a stigma and we avoid talking about it, but the only way to prevent people from attemping suicide is to give them a forum, an opportunity, and a voice to talk about the tough times they’re experiencing. 

If you make yourself available, you may just save a life.

Thank you.

Again, if you’re depressed, in crisis, need someone to talk to, and a judgement-free environment, please call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. You can also find them at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

The WODDITY podcast for news about CrossFit will be back, and thank you for your well-wishes in this tough time.

Sources

https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

https://www.befrienders.org/suicide-statistics

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml