8 things to consider before you write a 'please reach out' post about depression.

After the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain in early 2018, there was an influx of social media posts about what can be done to help prevent suicides.

Many, if not most, were posts with suicide hotline numbers and messages telling people to reach out if they are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

The CDC reported in June that U.S. suicide rates have increased more than 25% since 1999. Out of the top 10 causes of death, suicide is one of the three of those causes that are actually increasing. It's undoubtedly a serious public health problem and one that hits close to home.


I feel torn between gratitude that people are recognizing the severity of the problem and frustration with these types of responses.

Unfortunately, posting a hotline number and asking people to reach out isn't very effective when it comes to actually preventing suicide.

It's a much more complicated issue than it may seem on the surface. Reaching out is harder than you think, and often those who do seek treatment are unable to get it. Friendship and phone numbers might look helpful, but they can't solve the larger problems that feed into the suicide epidemic.

If people really want to help, it's important that they (1) think through and thoroughly understand the issue and (2) take actions that can actually have a real effect on supporting people who struggle with mental illness.

Here are a few key ideas and actions that can help everyone better understand suicide:

1. Don't think or assume that all people who are suicidal are not getting help. Many, if not most, are.

Depression is a freakin' monster of a beast. If you haven't experienced suicidal thoughts before, then you can't speak to the heaviness, the solidness, the loneliness, and the shame that exists parallel to depression. It's exhausting.

The terrible reality and truth of depression is that sometimes all the help isn't enough.

2. Try to understand why a depressed or suicidal person might not find a hotline number helpful.

When I've been stuck in depressive states, I lack the feeling of connection with myself and with others. Posting a phone number is impersonal, and it feels like a one and done type of effort.

3. Remember that mental health, suicide, and depression are full-time struggles.

The last time I saw this many postings of the suicide hotline number was when Chester Bennington died. Why does it have to take a public tragedy to garner support? It in some ways, it invalidates the experience of the person struggling with depression.

4. Keep in mind that in order for a hotline to be helpful, the depressed person has to feel worthy of being saved — and they often don't.

One of the pernicious parts of depression is that it tells you that you aren't worthy of receiving help, of succeeding, of living; in other words, you think you aren't worthy of doing the very thing you need to do to hopefully save your life.

So then what?

5. Instead of telling people to reach out if they need to, reach out yourself if you see signs that someone you love is depressed.

When someone is in the throes of depression, reaching out for even simple things can be an impossible task. It's up to friends and family to be proactive in checking on loved ones.

If you're concerned about someone, pick up the phone and tell them. Don't know what to say? Tell them that, too. Often it's not what you say but the fact that you said something at all that can make someone feel like they are connected to something larger than themselves.

6. Don't wait until there are signs to tell someone they matter to you.

Often after someone dies by suicide, their loved ones will say they had no idea or didn't see any signs the person was depressed. Mental illness is tricky in that it knows how to cover itself up when others are around.

So don't wait! There's nothing wrong with telling someone you love that they matter to you and its important to you that they're in your life. If they aren't depressed, they'll be touched by the gesture. But if they are, you may have just had an effect on their life.

7. Vote in November.

The Trump administration has asked the courts to strike down several pillars of the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Mental illnesses are considered preexisting conditions. If this goes through, treatment, medications, therapy, hospitalization, and more will be even more inaccessible to people who need them than they already are.

8. Work to end mental health stigma by paying attention to the language you use.

Focus on using person-centered language so that people can be seen first as a person and not defined by their mental health issue. Combat stigma by talking about mental health issues on a regular basis.

I wholeheartedly believe that everyone who is posting the phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is well-intentioned and wants to help people they know if they are feeling depressed. And that's great! But with more information and understanding, we can do better to help the people who need it most.

When an earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused a nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 most people who lived in the area fled. Some left without their pets, who then had to fend for themselves in a radioactive nuclear zone.

Sakae Kato stayed behind to rescue the cats abandoned by his neighbors and has spent the last decade taking care of them. He has converted his home, which is in a contaminated quarantine area, to a shelter for 41 cats, whom he refers to as "kids." He has buried 23 other cats in his garden over the past 10 years.

The government has asked the 57-year-old to evacuate the area many times, but he says he figured he was going to die anyway. "And if I had to die, I decided that I would like to die with these guys," he said.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.