It was heartbreaking last Monday to hear about Denver Bronco’s player, Kenny McKinley, death.  This young man, respected and loved by many, apparently took his own life in a tragic story that is unfortunately too common.  While there is much to be said about the importance of seeking help and understanding warning signs, I want to take a moment to talk about the value of sharing our individual struggle with others.  McKinley’s death prompted Woody Paige, a prominent sports columnist, to share his own struggle with depression and suicide in his column last week.

Woody Paige’s courageous decision to share his truth with others is amazing.  Too often fear, shame, guilt, or any number of obstacles keeps those who have experienced (or are experiencing) mental illness to keep quiet.  We don’t encourage each other to share these painful stories- or the powerful lessons that are learned in overcoming them.  But just as Woody Paige did last week, more people need to open their hearts and their mouths if we are going to overcome the stigma associated with mental illness.

If you were diagnosed with cancer you would not hide away while the disease ravaged your body and stole years from your life- you (I hope) would fight.  You would seek advice and support and follow the best protocol for recovery.  You would stand up to the disease (with the help of others) and do the best you could to live your life through the challenge.  And then you would tell others.  You would share what worked and what didn’t, recommend certain doctors or books to help others get through.  You would encourage others to get help because you know that it can save their life.  Depression and mental illness should be no different.  There is hope and recovery available but only if you are willing to share your story and encourage others to ask for help.

Thank you to Woody Paige for sharing his story… I hope that he inspires others to do the same.

You can read his column here —->  Paige: We must learn from McKinley’s death – The Denver Post.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (this is a national hotline available anywhere in the US 24 hours/day)