If you are struggling with suicidality, this publicity may intensify it. Please check out Suicide Prevention Lifeline if that is the case. If you are struggling with mental health, please seek a mental health professional. Many people think that one session with Dr. K will fix all of their problems. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Mental health and suicide are very real, and they can be devastating, and it is essential to seek out help from a licensed mental health professional when you need it.
Skin infections, stomach bugs, and the flu are not that devastating. They do not kill many people, and we have ways to fight them. Our immune system is free to fight them off. However, HIV is different. It takes over the body and turns it against itself. It compromises the body’s ability to fight back and eats it up from the inside. That is why it is such a killer.
Depression is the HIV of the mind. It makes you think that you can’t win. It makes you feel that the people who love you would be better off without you. It controls your actions and destroys your ability to fight back. That is what makes it so devastating.
A study done by the Department of Defense found that the people who play video games are 10-20% smarter than people who don’t. Depression is so devastating because it turns your intellect against you. You rely on your mind to help you, protect you, and allow you to move forward. That is why depression can be so crippling — it takes your most potent weapon and turns it against you.
Mental Health and Suicide Statistics
Over 50% of adults in developed countries will suffer from some mental health problem in their life. Mental illness is an epidemic that is silent and has been ravaging the developed world for years. It’s getting worse, and we are not doing enough about it.
Suicide has increased by a third over the last decade. A 33% increase in mental illness in the population does not mean that it is a 33% increase in everyone. Suicide rates have doubled in teenagers over the last decade. In 2003, the suicide rate among teenagers increased by 8%. It has been climbing steadily by about 5% every year.
The whole population does not drive the 33% increase in suicide — we do, i.e., our generation, specifically, the internet generation. Suicide is literally killing us and mental health cannot keep up.
Risk Factors for Suicide
Loneliness and Isolation
Suicide and depression are so devastating because they turn what should be a multiplayer game into a singleplayer game. We start to isolate, and we worry alone.
If you get worried about something, talk to someone. It does not matter who, just talk to someone. Give people a chance to help you.
A Public Suicide
When a public figure takes their own life, other people are more likely to follow. Your mind is more likely to attack you in the coming weeks to months.
It is a well-documented phenomenon. A lot of people died after Robin William’s suicide in 2014. If you start to experience thoughts of suicide, please contact a helpline, and seek help from a mental health professional.
If your mind can become more suicidal over time, then that means that it can also become less suicidal over time. However, in the mind of a suicidal person, this thought never arises. Their mind believes that the downward trend will go on forever. That is the source of hopelessness.
However, that is not true. If suicidality is a fluctuating attribute in your mind, then it is not just going to go downwards. It is going to go up at some point. All things in the mind come to an end; that is their nature. The mind returns to equilibrium — you just have to buy it enough time.
You might feel hopeless, but that is what mental illness does to us. It makes us feel like the present is eternal. However, that’s simply not true. Everything eventually changes, and that includes the state of our mind.
Protective Factors Against Suicide
Psychiatry and mental health treatment are the number one protective factors against suicide. If you are experiencing suicidality, then clinical care is the most effective solution.
Access to Support Structures
This is our responsibility as an online community. Twitch, Steam, Twitter, and Reddit — take your pick. We live in a world where we can tune into a stream, listen to a guy talk at us, and feel connected. The computer might be what isolates us, but it also gives us the opportunity for connection.
Skills in Problem Solving
Gamers are smarter than the average population. We can use this tool to solve our problems, improve the circumstances in our life, overcome our obstacles, and move forward.
How Does Self-Medication Affect Mental Health?
Self-medication and substance use are band-aids for mental health and suicidality. They make you feel good, but they don’t fix the underlying problem. Sometimes you need to use them to get through the day, but they don’t address the real issue.
Medication from a professional is a bridge to a better life. It is a temporary solution to help you work on the real problem. However, self-medication is a bridge to nowhere. It does not lead you anywhere in the end.
Sometimes it is hard to survive in your mind, and that is where substances are helpful. But they are not effective in the long run if you don’t build another bridge. The strategy to overcome an addiction is to remove the need for the addiction.
How to Get Mental Health Treatment
If you have an ANY medical professional in your life, tell them that you are struggling with depression. Talk to your doctor. You can also call your insurance company and ask them how you can see a therapist.
You can go to a website such as PsychologyToday, BetterHelp, or TalkSpace and sign up to talk to people. You can even google and look for therapists in your location. If you cannot afford mental health care, simply google “free mental health care in my city.” A lot of providers will not charge people who cannot afford mental health treatment. You just have to ask.
If all else fails, simply talk to a friend and say, “Hey, I think I should see a therapist, but I don’t know how.”
How Does HealthyGamer Do Mental Health?
“Mental health for gamers, by gamers” — that is our motto at HealthyGamer. However, we are not mental health treatment.
How can we do mental health for gamers, if we don’t offer treatment?
Mental illness became such a problem because somewhere along the way, we put the burden of mental health solely on providers. As a society, we gave up on mental health. We assumed that psychiatry is the only solution to mental health problems.
People think that Dr. K does therapy on stream. That is not true. That is not therapy — he has human conversations with people about what is going on in their life. The problem with mental health is that what Dr. K does on stream — talk to people about their issues — should be the norm.
Medicine is not the entirety of physical health. Diet and exercise are facets to physical fitness that do not fall under medicine. Similarly, psychiatry is not the entirety of mental health. Nutritionists and personal trainers can help you reduce the risk of heart disease without providing medical treatment. Likewise, there are aspects of good mental health that do not necessarily involve treatment.
Reckful’s Role in HealthyGamer
Reckful put us on the map. 99% of our viewers came from him. He was the one who gave us the term “AoE Healing.” He gave people hope — he was honest and authentic. He let people see him for who he was. He brought us together and gave us a way to be connected. People were inspired to get help because they saw him trying to get help.
If you’re losing hope, because he inspired you, and now he’s gone, think about the following for a second. If he can lose the battle, then that means that you can win. Reckful had access to money, fame, adoration, and even Dr. K, but it wasn’t enough. We need to understand that if money cannot buy you happiness, then being broke cannot cause you to lose it. While money and happiness may be connected, they are independent variables.
What happens when a champion falls? Do we stop fighting?
No. When a champion falls, we mourn them. Then we get back up, and we fight. We fight like there’s no tomorrow. The last thing that Reckful is giving us with his death is a call to action.
We need to fight our battles, if not for ourselves, then for the fallen and especially those who are still struggling. It is a personal battle. But you don’t have to fight it alone.
You can watch Dr. K’s thoughts on mental illness and suicide in this video:
You cannot AFK at the game of mental health. You have to fight it. It does not matter if you have advantages or disadvantages — you need to find the battle anyway. You can be given all the weapons in the world, but at the end of the day, you are the one who needs to wield them and fight. We may have lost this battle, but we have to win the war on mental illness.