I have a mild interest in missing persons, unexplained deaths, and mysterious phenomena, etc. I always have done; one of my favourite books as a kid was “The Complete Book of the Unexplained: A Thrilling Exploration of the Earth’s Most Baffling Mysteries”. These days I mostly get my ‘fix’ through YouTube channels like ‘Dark5’ and ‘Bedtime Stories’.
Often, clearly suspicious deaths or disappearances are written off with because the victim had mental issues of some kind. Even in cases where (with the story as presented) it seems impossible for the victim to have committed suicide given the cause of death, it sometimes gets ruled that way anyway. The same happens for disappearances where no body is found; often someone with depression is assumed to have committed suicide just because they went missing.
This really bothers me. I hate the stigma against mental health; if these people hadn’t talked about what they were going through, the cases might have been ruled in a different way. Their memory is sullied just because they had a problem and chose to try to address it publicly.
This scenario makes me think about myself. I periodically deal with depression, and in fact I am dealing with it right now. I wonder what people would think if I mysteriously went missing. Would my blog posts be used to make a case that I had went out intending to kill myself? How about my journal, or my chat messages?
It wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of who I am and what I’m going through to boil down things down like that just because I experience depression. As things stand, if I disappeared today, it’d have been because something happened to me outside of my control. But no, the first conclusion that many people would jump to after finding out that I have had depression is that I had committed suicide. Authorities might not devote much effort into trying to find out what happened to me, and I would be remembered differently by my friends, family, and others.
Society views people with mental health issues as ‘Crazy People’, or ‘Sad People’, or ‘Angry People’. We think that they are violent, or dangerous, or that they are a danger to themselves. If a person with mental health issues breaks down, it ‘makes sense’, and we attribute it to their illness rather than looking at the specific circumstances which pushed them to it. If a depressed person commits disappears or commits suicide, that ‘makes sense’ too and we don’t try to look into the reasons why.
We should instead be viewing these ‘Crazy People’ as people that need our help, compassion, and understanding. Crazy or not, they are People after all.