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Depressed AND Suicidal? How Clickbait Can You Get? · 8:38am Feb 15th, 2018

Despite the misleading title and cover picture, I'm actually gonna be pretty serious here. I expect the internet hugbox to get pissy with me too, and I frankly don't give a shit. My two main goals here are to encourage those who need help to actually get help, and for those who want to help to actually help--either in getting their friends the help they need, or in exposing those who don't actually need help as the lying faggots they are. Please join me on this journey to make people on the internet hate me for daring to speak candidly on a sensitive topic.

Okay, so there’s a problem that I’ve identified which I feel needs addressing. This is in regards to the topic of depression or suicidal thoughts/tendencies among friends and the general populace on the internet. I specify the internet because it’s a somewhat different environment than in real life, though I guess what I’m going to discuss here does in some respects apply to real-life situations as well.

As a quick primer: I am no longer a teenager (Note: When I say "teenager" in this blog I don't mean exclusively people between the ages of 13 and 19--I mean people with a teenager's mindset, defined by typical behavior associated with the age range), but during my teen years, I was often depressed in my moments alone with my thoughts. I also had suicidal thoughts from time to time, though these never got past the idle fantasy stage due to 1. me hating pain and not wanting to hurt, and 2. not really having any major difficulties with my life in general (got touched as a little tyke, parents got divorced, my mom went through a spat of awful boyfriends, some roommates were meth-heads, dad occasionally got drunk and aggressive, etc.--but these never defined my own mental state). My personal experience with these topics is limited, but I have quite a number of friends who have experienced varying levels of depression and suicidal thoughts/tendencies. I am no expert—which is kind of the point. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

I have been on the internet for a long time. I have been there to witness the evolution of how people interact with one another online for longer than some of my friends have been alive for.  The etiquette of how to portray yourself to your web friends has changed radically since 90’s Scoota on dial-up was chatting up his fellow 9- to 15-year-olds on Yahoo! Messenger and Runescape (early to mid 2000’s for the latter, for the record), and even longer since he masqueraded as a teenage girl named Merry on World of Warcraft (sorry Brad, I don’t actually want your dick—but thanks for the money). Depressed Scoota never had an online identity, nor did depressed Scoota have an identity in real life. That has never been a part of myself that I felt comfortable sharing with others, at least not openly.

Why, exactly? Well, back during the days of instant messengers and dial-up, that just... wasn’t something to discuss. If someone was genuinely depressed or suicidal, it wasn’t a topic that was really brought up. No one knew and no one volunteered this information. It was a secret to everybody.

Now, it’s not a secret anymore. Depression is fairly commonplace in online forums and discussion boards, and suicidal thoughts are almost lackadaisically thrown into an online persona as a type of credential that seems to certify people to assert knowledge in certain subject matter. An odd bragging right to have, but I guess some people perceive it as empowering or the like.

To start, I’d like to share my theory on where this all came from. Teens have always been mildly depressed or suicidal, and this was shared with real life friends in confidence previously (teen Scoota). Those who are diagnosed with chronic depression or suicidal tendencies, the ones with legit mental issues—they weren’t very numerous on the internet not that long ago, and they tended to be older than 16 or so, at least as far as the internet goes. These were a very small group of people, and the internet didn’t like them. Generally speaking, they were told to go away, as no one on the internet was their doctor. Even friends you care about—you can’t help how they feel. It’s a condition that can’t be remedied by words. So, pointless to try. It was resigned borderline hostility toward that kind of behavior.

Somewhere along the way, this changed. These people with serious depression or suicidal tendencies, they started being revered, almost celebrated. They were empowered and told that they could talk about their feelings whenever and wherever they wanted. They were given a community of support, people who were going through these issues as well, friends who couldn’t quite relate but wanted to make them feel better, people who would give them the respect they wanted despite their disability. It was great, right? People who struggled with these issues being given a safe space? Well... we’ll get back to this.

It’s a well-known fact that teenagers like to stand out or be noticed. No one is an exception to this. Hell, most people in general want to stand out or be noticed. I want to stand out or be noticed within certain circles. It’s vanity, and people will say or do a lot of things to receive this recognition. They’ll even lie about what they think or feel.

Thus, it would stand to reason that people with serious mental issues, those who are noticed for their problems—that they would be noticed and paid attention to and given that friendly recognition. Teenagers often do have at least mild depression and even suicidal thoughts, these are expected—but it isn’t a stretch to imagine that they’d embellish their thoughts and feelings to increase their reputation within online communities. Maybe their problems aren’t really problems like they make them out to be.

Now, let’s back up a bit here. What if they’re being absolutely forthright about this? What if these folks do indeed have chronic depression or an actual mental disorder that leads them to desire self-harm? Shouldn’t we be a supportive community? Should we assume that all people who claim to be depressed or suicidal are actually depressed or suicidal on the occasion that maybe they’re being honest and they off themselves due to apathy?

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that this is the case. You’re not their fucking psychiatrist. You know you specifically can’t prescribe someone medication for chronic depression, right? And you do know that’s one of the very small list of things that can help them balance out their mood, right? There is absolutely nothing that a person can say or do to make someone feel better when they are actually clinically depressed. They will be pessimistic and negative and spiteful regardless of what you say. You literally cannot help them. The only appropriate course of action would be to encourage them to talk to a doctor, and if you truly fear for their safety, to notify their local police department, as the police will get them the help they need if they're unable to. You’re not a doctor and you’re not a psychiatrist or a psychologist. You can’t help, so don’t pretend you can.

If someone is “depressed” on the internet and you cheer them up, that’s not depression—not in the clinical sense, at least. That’s called having a shitty day, or being in a bad mood, or being sad because life is a fucking drag sometimes. Not every negative emotion equates to depression. It’s ridiculous to call everything depression like that, as no one on the internet can cure depression. The only person who can help with that is a doctor. Don’t pretend you’re special or unique here. You can’t fix brains.

Suicidal tendencies are even worse. What, you think you alone can stop a person from hanging themselves indefinitely? You think you specifically can singlehandedly be a pillar of support to hold this person above the floodwater? That’s ridiculous! I’m not saying don’t try to help, in a sense—absolutely tell them to not die. Tell them to go to the hospital where a doctor can actually help, that you’re just a friend who doesn’t want them to die and that that isn’t enough to make the bad thoughts go away like they need it to. The only thing that can help your friend—truly help them—is to get medical attention from an actual doctor who can prescribe them medication or give them psychiatric care or change their life habits to something healthier and more positive.

The greatest hubris of mankind is believing that you specifically know what to do. What, because you’re mildly depressed, that qualifies you to provide psychiatric care to a chronically depressed person? You think it's okay for them to become reliant on you instead of seeking out real medical care? You think that because you idly think about hanging yourself from the tree on your front lawn sometimes, that makes you an expert on telling someone that swallowing a bottle of pills is not the solution? Eventually, they’re going to kill themselves, and it’s going to be your fault because you didn’t encourage them to get actual help. Don’t carry the world on your shoulders. Tell them that you want them to get better, that you want them to be happy—and that it’s impossible for you to help them, and they need to go see their doctor now. Maybe they go to the ER, maybe they schedule an appointment. Sitting in front of a fucking computer screen is not going to fix their depression or remove their desire to commit suicide, though, and you encouraging them to come back over and over again to an unreliable support network is asking for them to have a relapse at the worst possible time.

Let’s wrap this back to the primary point of contention: Pretenders. Those who exaggerate their problems to seem like they’re worse than they really are. People who want this care and attention, these people who presumably think they’ll find qualified doctors on the internet, who think that typical feelings and considerations of the general populace are these big deals that they need to claim as badges of honor so their internet friends will notice them. What should we do with these people? How do we even know if they’re lying or being genuine?

Simply put: Assume they’re telling the truth. Tell them to go get actual medical help. That they need to go see a doctor. That they need a prescription, or psychiatric care. That you cannot help. That you cannot fix their condition. If they outright refuse to talk to an adult about it, or see a doctor, or do anything to better their situation, call them out on their bullshit. Tell them that if they’re really suffering from depression or are really contemplating suicide, they need to get actual help, not run to the internet and get a hugbox every other day. That’s not mental healthcare, that’s teenagers exploiting people so they’ll get attention.

Now, the obvious question: “Scootareader, why are you such a dick?” Because I give way too much of a shit about when I hear about my friends being emotionally drained all the time because some “depressed” asshole is sucking them dry of every positive emotion they’ve got, and all they have left for everyone else is malice and anger. Maybe I’m alone in believing that I shouldn’t burden others with my problems on the daily, that I don’t deserve to take and take and take just cuz I’ve got friends. All the same, I think we should give a shit about people actually getting help instead of pretending the internet is a valid solution for mental problems.

So, for those who didn’t follow this whole thing, I’ve got a couple key points for you here:

1. If you suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, see a doctor. The internet can’t help you.

2. If you have a friend who claims to suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, encourage them to see a doctor. You cannot help them, and your meddling with a mental health problem you clearly can’t cure is only going to make things worse for your friend overall. Be persistent and frequently remind them that medical treatment is the only way they can get better. Obviously be a friend, try to be a positive influence and don't push them away—but don't imagine for a second that you can fix them.

3. If you are an asshole teenager who thinks about dying while they’re taking a dump sometimes and think that permits you to claim mental health problems and for no discernible reason refuse to see a doctor and instead tell your internet friends you need help every single day, fuck off and find someone else to harass. Excuses to not get treatment for something that you claim threatens your life every single day are fucking retarded and you shouldn’t be substituting your friends’ concern for you as actual medical help. Either get real, actual medical help or find another community of good people to suck the life out of, you goddamned leeches.

Lastly, if someone claims that they’ve already talked to their doctor about it and their doctor didn’t help, tell them to go back to their doctor and tell them that whatever they prescribed or suggested isn’t helping. A doctor can’t get you proper help when you don’t tell them that their remedy didn’t work. That’s almost as stupid as not going to the doctor at all. You have no idea how many times I've heard this claim: "I've been to a doctor. The medication they gave me didn't work." So go back immediately and tell them. They'll tell you what might be going on and adjust your prescription as necessary until it does work. Friends aren't a medication that works reliably either.

Maybe it feels like I'm being callous or uncaring here, but honestly, what I want most is for people who suffer from these mental conditions to make their lives tangibly better. I've accepted that neither I nor anyone I've ever met on the internet is qualified to help with these mental issues over the internet, thus the only appropriate course of action is to recommend these folks get help from someone who is qualified in the appropriate setting. I want my friends to survive, and assuming that I or someone else will always be available during a crisis is naïve to the point of very serious endangerment of these people—some of them close friends of mine whom I care very much about. I want everyone to live, and in order for that to happen, sometimes you have to accept that you are not the best possible solution to the problem.

If you read this whole thing, thank you. I hope you understand my sentiment behind making this kind of statement.

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Comments ( 7 )

I have to say I'm behind you 100% on this, just because you need attention doesn't mean everyone is able to heap it onto you, and faking something serious like depression or being suicidal is a real scummy thing to do. Not to mention it's in some cases unfair to whoever you may be trying to cry to on the internet, not everyone has some kind of caretaker personality and wants to or knows how to deal with your daily venting/whining. If someone out there doesn't want to give you or your designated depressed friend who needs internet hugs attention or comfort and that thought makes you angry or upset with said person: kindly fuck off, and don't treat them like they're horrible for not knowing how to comfort others or not wanting to comfort a stranger on the internet, you don't know their story. For all you know they may be depressed themselves and they can barely keep up with that depression in their lives, they probably don't need more.

You do bring out the best in people.

Indeed. That is a good outlook, and I agree with it.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. :twilightsheepish:

fuck anyone who fakes it

This is the kind of blog I can get behind. I don’t see too much as far as glorification of mental illness goes on the Internet, as a matter of fact most of the glorification I’ve seen for mental illness came from tumblr. I bring up Tumblr because on that site it’s basically considered cool to be a social outcast, and no better way to further yourself from the crowd by saying you have a bunch of mental illnesses even if you’ve never been diagnosed or treated for such conditions.

Tumblr is probably the worst offender, but there has been a gradual embracing of disorders over time by the internet at large. Some of the older internet personalities have spoken at length about this; any community founded in devil-may-care culture will eventually become more inclusive and thus lose its original appeal.

To begin with, every human being requires support and moral stability. Work, relationships, and speed are factors that are detrimental to our mental health. If you feel you need support, turn to a variety of online therapy providers. In fact, there are many, and the convenience of using online therapy is amazing. You can take a look at this, as there is a large list of different sites out there. Each site has a different specialty, and at a relatively low or no cost. Everyone will find what they need and everyone needs support.

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