We can all help prevent suicide

The needs of those who suffer from depression — be it temporary or long-term — were painfully brought to the forefront by the death of James Dungy, son of NFL coach Tony Dungy.

As members of the USF community come back from the winter break, some are dreading the spring term. For others, the fresh promise of a new semester may be essential to remedy depression brought on by the holiday season.

“Depression has absolutely devastating costs for society,” said Jonathan Rottenberg, USF assistant professor in psychology, in a press release last year. “It accounts for over 20 percent of economic costs for all mental health illness, it costs people their jobs, their marriages and, tragically, too often it costs people their lives.”

For Dungy, it was evident prior to his death that depression had a hold on him. According to a Jan. 5 article in the St. Petersburg Times, he told a 911 operator in October that he was depressed after overdosing on various pills. Surely Dungy’s friends and family did everything in their power to help this troubled young man. However, for many of us, we may not find ourselves as willing or able to help those in our lives who need it the most.

When dealing with a friend or family member who is depressed, it can be easy to say that the person is an adult and it is his or her job to be responsible for their well-being and happiness. Many will say, “It’s not my place to help,” or ask, “I’m only one person, what can I do?”

This is reasonable, because no single person can help a depressed individual; it is a group effort. Support systems are essential to help those suffering from the disease of depression come back and make a full recovery.

Resources such as these are available to students at USF’s Counseling Center for Human Development. Each student is allowed one free intake session and after that can receive up to 10 free sessions. Tips on how to identify a troubled individual, as well as other general information, can be found on its Web site, http://usfweb2.usf.edu/counsel/.

Dungy’s passing is unfortunate and, many may say, senseless — but it doesn’t have to be. It can serve as a wake-up call to the general public to be on the look out for friends or family who may be feeling down for an extended period of time, and reach out a helping and potentially life-saving hand.