When we lost Erika in 2004, we fervently searched for how to prevent this from ever happening to another child in our community. Disappointingly, what we discovered was that even experts in the field of mental health cannot predict with consistent accuracy why one person will take their life over another.

However, through our search, we had a groundbreaking revelation…According to the Report of the Surgeon General, 90% of youth who take their life have a diagnosable mental disorder, the most common being depression.

It is our strong belief that failure to recognize the symptoms of depression and the stigma associated with mental illness are what prevents young people from getting the help they deserve.

So what are the symptoms of depression?

  • A period of sadness for two weeks or more
  • Feelings of boredom, lack of energy and interest in things you once loved
  • Difficulty remembering things or trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Moodiness, irritability or anger outbursts
  • Believing no one likes you or everyone picks on you
  • Wanting to be left alone
  • Being fixated on past mistakes
  • Worried about looking stupid or foolish
  • Believing you are no good
  • Unexplained physical problems like stomachaches or headaches
  • Thoughts of wanting to die or going to sleep and not waking up
  • Self injury
  • Excessive use of drugs or alcohol

If this sounds like you or someone you know, visit the SAMHSA mental health service locator to find help near you. Also, check out our website to find out ways that you can help spread awareness around depression and destigmatize mental illness in your community.