Susan Howell's million dollar question: What causes depression?
"If I had the answer to that," she says, smiling and shrugging Wednesday at
the beginning of a depression and suicide prevention workshop at Jacksonville
On the classroom board in the Theron Montgomery Building, Howell, who works
at the Calhoun-Cleburne Mental Health Center in Anniston, writes down words that
people associate with depression. Sad, lonely and suicide all make it onto the
What's notable is the absence of qualities such as changes in appetite, sleep
problems and a lack of energy, she says.
The workshop was sponsored by JSU Counseling and Career Services, the student
chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Disability Support
Services titled "Dealing with Depression & Suicide Prevention: Creating
Howell said learning about methods of detecting and coping with depression
can help save a life.
For instance, a common myth about suicide is that people who don't talk about
it don't do it, she said.
"Some people make up their mind and get a peace about them," she said.
Medical treatment sometimes is necessary to help people cope with the
chemical imbalances that stoke depression and lead to suicide, she said.
Another danger associated with suicide and depression is that it can feed a
cycle, especially if someone feels guilty and becomes depressed following the
suicide of a friend or family member.
Howell said many people don't want to end their lives so much as end the
Helping people in most cases means asking questions early and taking them
seriously if they complain about symptoms such as lack of sleep or unexplained
feelings of nervousness.
"Friends say they are depressed, but how do you know if they are playing or
for real?" asked Shevon Young, a sophomore in nursing at JSU.
It's difficult to tell, Howell said, because people have a tendency to
exaggerate their conditions.
Linda Shelton, the lead counselor with Counseling and Career Services, says
she circulates a letter a student wrote about coping with suicide to help
About Matt Kasper
Matthew Kasper covers Jacksonville, Piedmont, Ohatchee
and Alexandria for The Anniston Star.
See story at The Anniston Star's website: www.annistonstar.com