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Depression, Suicide & Saint Dymphna in the age of Coronavirus

The Suicide of actor Robin Williams in 2014 made headlines around the world. Perhaps it is because, as a comedian, he always seemed to be “up” and ready to laugh.  Plus, he seemed to have all that the modern world tells us we should want:  Fame, Wealth, Acclaim.

So it is surprising to those who did not know about his inner conflict, that he suffered from depression and ended up taking his own life.

But Robin Williams was not alone:  countless people suffer silently from depression.  Although some might wish to call it a character flaw, it is actually a disease that afflicts many regardless of class or wealth.

Now that we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic with its isolation and fear, suicide is becoming a concern among many and there are reports of people becoming so depressed that they take their own lives.  This is compounded by a sense that things are not right in this world:  assisted suicide, abortion on demand, the transgender movement, divisions within the Catholic Church itself and so much more.  When you combine all these it is difficult to feel that God is in charge.  Depression is a real illness, and yet few want to talk about it, especially those suffering from it.

As we know, good can often come out of the bad that happens. In this case, due to the enormous amount of publicity  surrounding the suicide of Robin Williams; it will hopefully create more awareness of depression, its signs and treatment.  Often times those with depression feel sadness, shame, and helplessness. No matter what a loved one or friend might to cheer up someone suffering from depression….even though they know you are speaking the truth…their illness prevents them from seeing the reality around them..As a result they are reluctant to move forward and ask for help. And those around them may not be looking for the signs of depression that could help avert tragedy.

Do you take Xanax?  Here’s a warning from the American Addiction Centers: “While it is known that these drugs are safest when used for no longer than six weeks, many doctors continue to allow patients multiple refills for far longer periods of time. The Bend Bulletin notes 1.9 million prescriptions were filled for Oregon residents in 2013, and 45 percent of them refilled their medication at least three months in a row.”

Often, symptoms of anxiety can lead to depressive symptoms, too, and Xanax may be prescribed to treat the original symptoms. Depression and anxiety are cited as primary reasons for drug abuse among 63 percent of older adults, per the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. While many may begin using these medications in a prescribed fashion to treat their symptoms, those same symptoms may resolve over time but the individuals remain medicated. When they attempt to come off the drug and familiar symptoms return, they assume they still need them, but sometimes, it’s merely that the drug itself, and dependence on it, causes feelings of depression and anxiety to manifest during withdrawal.

Did you know that Saint Dymphna is a little-known  saint who is invoked in cases of mental health issues?  Her name is  not familiar to many, yet countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession.

Her shrine is in Geel, Belgium

There is also a National Shrine of Saint Dymphna in the U.S. in Massillon, Ohio (check this page for more information on Saint Dymphna).

The Feast Day of Saint Dymphna is celebrated on May 15.

You find a great assortment of Saint Dymphna prayer cards and more here.