I heard the news yesterday and it shocked me to my core. A dear member of our Legal Marketers Extraordinaire / LMA community had passed away. Tragically, he died from suicide. His was not the first death by suicide of a man in his 50s that I knew this year.
Researchers don’t know why, but suicide rates peak for men in the 50s. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched by such a tragic loss. I wrote about suicide and our profession after Chris Cornell, an icon for we GenXers, died:
- Odds: 1.33
Becoming a lawyer requires significant education and educational expenses. Additionally, once an individual completes the necessary education to become a lawyer, they often have accumulated debt from student loans. Simultaneously, they often have difficulties finding a good job that meets their expected income level. It should also be mentioned that law students tend to become depressed before they establish themselves as lawyers. Some reports suggest that nearly 40% of law students deal with depression.
Working lawyers are thought to have higher rates of depression than the average U.S. citizen. – some research indicates their rates are approximately 3.6 times that of average occupations. The fact that lawyers are more prone to depression and often have to work long, stressful hours to establish themselves, their mental health can suffer. This can spiral into thoughts of suicide, and if a lawyer feels as if there’s no escape from their stressful career, they may act on those thoughts.
Obviously not all lawyers suffer from depression and suicidal ideation, it just happens to be more common in this particular occupation. Statistics indicate that lawyers are 1.33 times more likely to off themselves as an average citizen. The skyrocketing rates of depression and suicide in recent years have lead to the implementation of mandatory psychological evaluations for lawyers in certain states.
We as a society, and especially as a profession, do not talk about depression or suicide. We only whisper about it, after the fact. But we need to break that stigma, instead of breaking hearts and the souls of our children.
My friend was not a lawyer, but I 100% get the pressure that leads to depression that can lead to suicide.
I get the personal expectations that come from being a professional.
I get the wearing a bright shiny smile, and pulling it all together on the outside.
I get wondering how the hell I’m going to pay for college, and what the hell am I going to do about my mom.
I get wondering, is this all there fucking is???????????????????????
I am so grateful to have a pathway though my sobriety to work through these demons that bite at me every day. I know not everyone knows where to turn to in times of crisis–let alone know how to identify if they are in danger.
Floating around Facebook is an slideshow featuring photos of people taken in the days before they died by suicide. Smiling, happy, joyful. If I find it, I’ll update this post.
As a marketer, I know how to package things, including myself. You will never know how I am doing, unless I can bring myself to be so vulnerable with you.
I can only assume it was the same with my friend. Beneath that smile, that wit, that passion and commitment, it was there, and none of us knew. We are all in shock.
If you are out there, and you are reading this, and you are in pain, DM me on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. I will get the message immediately. Or call the National Suicide Hotline – 1-800-273-8255 or their chatline.