A young man from my synagogue, Jason Arkin, died last week, five days before his 21st birthday. Jason's obituary, written by Mollie Chesis, notes that:
"Jason graduated from Blue Valley Northwest High School in May 2012 as a National Merit Scholar and he was currently a junior at Northwestern University studying electrical engineering. Jason struggled with clinical depression and ultimately passed due to his illness. Jason was one of many young adults suffering with mental illness in a time when mental illness remains stigmatized and misunderstood."
Mental illness is just that -- an illness. And, as is often the case with an illness, it can be fatal. The way we choose to describe suicide, the words we use, matter. Imagine the impact -- worldwide -- if we all had said Robin Williams struggled with clinical depression and ultimately passed due to his illness.
Puts it a whole different light, doesn't it?
I didn't know Jason, but I've been told by many in the community that he was a sweet, kind young man. Memorial contributions in his honor can be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
P.S. Today is Mollie's birthday. And it is completely appropriate to celebrate this amazing young woman, along with her wisdom. Happy birthday, Mollie! Thank you for giving us the right words.