If you are not from South Africa, you will probably not be familiar with the name Andrew Thompson… in fact, neither was I… I always just thought of him as Fanie from the Afrikaans movie series Bakgat. Well, ‘Fanie’ committed suicide. ‘What?! How is this possible!?’ is probably what you are thinking, imagining ‘Fanie’, whom we have come to know as the extremely sweet, comical, funny and happy character on our television screens.
The first thing I thought when I heard that he committed suicide was: ‘And people STILL think depression is not a series illness?‘ There are still people who believe that depression is a made-up thing – an illness of the time, that everybody gets some time or another. That depression means merely feeling ‘down’ and that these people should ‘pull themselves together’ and look at all their blessings…
Will you tell someone with a broken hip to pull themselves together and go out for a walk? How can we be so insensitive to an illness that is so real? Just because you cannot show physical evidence for its existence, like an arm in a cast, or a bloody, stitched up toe, doesn’t mean it does not exist. It just makes us uncomfortable, doesn’t it? It especially makes those personality types uncomfortable that think of ‘sensitive souls’ as weak people.
May we move beyond our narrow-minded ideas when it comes to Depression: Depression is not a mood (as in ‘I am angry, frustrated, depressed’) – it is an illness with a capital ‘D’. It does not merely mean you are having a ‘down’ or ‘off’ day, and you cannot merely fix it by looking at the sunshine. Wake up, people, and reach out to those who suffer from Depression as if they are going through major surgery – you are treading on such sensitive ground when working with people who suffer from Depression.
Whether ‘Fanie’ or Andrew Thompson suffered from depression or not, this death has got to make you think… if someone who seems to have it all (fame, popularity, LOVED and adored by his country’s people) commits suicide – he was NOT just having an ‘off’ day.
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