It’s Not Weakness That Takes Lives
Amidst the Eldritch sisters' death and The Rock's personal story, what must we remember about mental health stigma and support?
- Earlier this week, the bodies of twin sisters with OCD, Amanda and Sara Eldritch, were found in a vehicle parked near the Royal Gorge Bridge, a tourist attraction in Colorado, in what is being reported as "an apparent suicide."
- Dwanye "The Rock" Johnson took to social media this week to share his battle with mental health, opening a door for sufferers - males in particular - to not shy away from admitting when they need help.
- In light of these stories, it's important that we discuss the dire need for widespread mental health awareness and support.
- It's not weakness that takes lives; it's the relentlessness of these illnesses that rips and tears at the strength of sufferers. We must catch them before their strength is gone.
For the world of mental illness, the past week has been one of huge wins and devastating lows.
Earlier this week one of the world’s biggest movie stars spoke about his battle with mental health, opening a door for sufferers – males in particular – to not shy away from admitting when they need help.
Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson told Express that he “reached a point” where he “didn’t want to do a thing or go anywhere.” He shared the chilling story of how – at just 15 – he witnessed his mother try to commit suicide and that when a fan wrote to him recently about battling depression he had written back: “I hear you. I’ve battled that beast more than once.”
In sharing a very personal side of his very public profile, the 45-year-old star sent the world an important message: “Struggle and pain is real.”
His undeniably influential message (with around 170-plus-million social media fans) meant comfort and unspoken support for the everyday person who may just be hiding their pain.
Then, another story broke: two identical twins who both suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder had been found dead in what is being reported as “an apparent suicide.”
According to Australia’s news.com.au article, the bodies of 33-year-old sisters Amanda and Sara Eldritch were found 200km from their home in a vehicle parked near the Royal Gorge Bridge, a tourist attraction in Canon City, Colorado.
American publication The Gazette reported the twin sisters (and had also previously spoken out about their battle) were “found fatally shot” on Friday and that the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office had released a statement saying the incident appeared to be “isolated” and added there was “no threat to the public.”
So, we have two breaking news stories in one country, in one week. One covering an international name who shared his story about depression, and the other covering the horrifying news that two young women lost their lives after a long battle with OCD.
Two different illnesses; two different stories – one really important topic: mental health awareness.
In a world where we spend the majority of our time on our phones, sharing our opinions, experiences and stories with the world via social media – how can we still feel unable to reach out for help?
Having lived with OCD myself since I was just a little girl, I know the darkness that comes from feeling alone. Most with mental illnesses do. Unfortunately, sometimes that darkness wins the battle and convinces us that there is no way out. We need to shine as much light on this topic as we can, using any platform at our disposal, to lead those who are lost, home.
When I was just 16, doctors placed my parents on ‘suicide watch.’ They asked them to ensure I never locked the bathroom door when I showered, or stayed alone in my room for too long. When I was older, I remember sitting in a car in a dark garage crying for hours, forcing myself to imagine the torment on my family’s faces as they sat front row at my funeral so I wouldn’t do anything bad. I never came close – but so many do. Others never come back.
In Australia suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged 15 to 44. In America, it’s the 10th leading cause, and for every life lost to suicide, an additional 25 attempts are made unsuccessfully.
Although my story of living with OCD is completely different to that of the Eldritch sisters, the story clutches at my heart and reminds me how important it is that we force the dialogue around mental illnesses open. It also makes me thankful for strong voices like that of Dwayne Johnson.
We need to make mental illness such a comfortable topic that saying “I’m not okay, in fact I’m having some pretty dark thoughts” is easy.
We need to make sure it’s open. That it’s listened to and acted upon.
No one should be alone in the dark long enough to let it win.