Having read the tragic news today of the death by suicide of the amazingly talented musician Chester Bennington, I've noticed something. With the deepest of respect for those who have been personally affected by suicide, and without getting into the details of this particular tragedy I want to address a message.
The message is 'if you're in a dark place, ask for help'.
While this is actually great advice, telling a person who is dealing with depression and other mental health issues to 'reach out' can be like telling a person with two broken legs to 'hop down to the hospital'. It may be outside of the realms of their capability at that time.
Sometimes it's time for other people around to be the instigators of connection rather than relying on the sick person to identify their illness. Trouble is, when someone is depressed it can be so incredibly difficult to know what to say. Asking if they are ok can either be like hitting a brick wall or like opening an overwhelming floodgate.
It's at times like these that I become aware of the incredible value of existing relationships and lines of open communication with friends and whanau that have been formed in the good times.
Maybe now is the time to dig below the surface.
Maybe if our conversations regularly and naturally address where we are at, how we are feeling, and the challenges and victories we are facing, we keep the doors to our lives open.
Maybe we should not just be satisfied with seeing photos online, or following status updates, but make sure we talk one-on-one and in person.
Maybe we should take the time to look those we love in the eyes, and listen to their hearts as well as their words.
There are no tricks, no magic words and no guarantees, but when the days are dark and the nights are long, the most valuable thing we have is one another - if we can learn to know, and be known.