The Block Island Times
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Guest Opinion: Call someone if you feel depressed

By Steve Hollaway | May 29, 2013

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy,” said the philosopher Albert Camus.

We ought not to dismiss anyone for facing the question or to treat despair purely as a medical problem.

Such a choice is usually a response to unbearable pain, but it is also a withdrawal into self that deprives others of the chance to love you and serve you in ways you would not wish to accept. Sometimes, we know, a suicide can be the last black screen of a slow-motion movie, one many have watched helplessly for what seems an eternity. But that wreck is no less an act of despair.

I am writing because someone begged me to address those on the island who are thinking that suicide is a way to be loved, at last. They see the outpouring of emotion for the deceased and wonder if this is the way to get love, and affirmation, and peace. Please believe me — even speaking as a man of faith — that you will not be there to receive the love.

If a wistful feeling about suicide crosses your mind, it is time to talk to a friend or clergy or call a hotline. If you’re thinking of a way to carry it out, run, don’t walk, to Butler Hospital. Their case manager on the island can help you get there; call Tracy at (207) 229-6349. Or call her for a telemedicine consult with a psychiatrist at no charge. If you are in the process of carrying out a plan, call 911. If you just need to talk to someone confidentially, call The Samaritans of Rhode Island at (800) 365-0444. There is also a helpline at 211 that can refer you to people to help with your particular problems. It may not seem true at the moment of despair, but there are people who are longing to help you and love you.

Please do not deprive them of the chance.

Steve Hollaway is the pastor at Harbor Baptist Church and is also founder of the island’s Mental Health Task Force.

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