How are you doing?

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There’s been lots of opinions about depression, mental health and suicide. What with the wave of celebrity suicides taking place? This week, celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, commits suicide at the age of 61. This came less than a week after fashion designer, Kate Spade, committed suicide at 55.

These are just the few stories that come to the limelight because they involve celebrities. Mental health is a topic that we have no choice in addressing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one person commits suicide every 40 seconds. It’s is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally.

My thoughts on this:

The fast paced society places a premium on our achievements, rather than our humanity. Everyone is caught in the rat-race of achieving something by a set time according to societal standards. We overlook the fact that everyone has their own unique path. We are not in a competition, and success is relative. No wonder we overwork ourselves and end up neglecting the person doing the work. Shonda Rhymes speaks of the hum in her Ted Talk, 

My year of saying yes to everything.

What was the last time you greeted the person sitting next to you in a bus, at the mall or your next door neighbor? Ah! I know how uncomfortable that may feel. Starting a conversation with a total stranger- even to me, that’s something way off my comfort zone. We are so engrossed in our lives that we end up forgetting we are not islands.

Social media has come to help solve that problem. Has it really? Social media gives us a false sense of being in people’s lives, and it also gives us this false sense that we have so many friends around us, yet we are alone. Human beings are relational and need to have real people around them.

We are so used to everything fake from eyebrows, food to friends. We don’t realize the genuine ones when they show up. In our minds, concerned people look suspect. We end up thinking that our concern to others would also look suspect.

Take that phone and just reach out to someone. That person that has been on your mind, just ask them how they’re doing. Mostly, we would get the answer FINE- which gives us an opportunity to probe further. Fine may just mean that someone is feeling empty, hopeless, frustrated e.t.c. and your small talk may just uplift their spirits.

There’s a local helpline for anyone with suicidal thoughts. Befrienders Kenya is a charitable organization that focuses on suicide prevention. They offer emotional support to those who may be in distress and in danger of committing suicide. Reach out to them on: +254722178177 for confidential, non-judgmental emotional support.

For children, there’s the 116 child helpline which is toll free.


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