A few years ago I made the decision to switch off the news on TV. I know that many will see my choice as ignorant and shallow and I can totally see why one would possibly feel that way.
There were a number of reasons behind my decision, some of which included my disgust at news programs using unnecessary sensationalism to attract viewers and the lack of privacy and respect for traumatised victims and family of awful crimes. There was also the fact that I was struggling with depression myself and couldn't cope with anymore reminders of just how bleak things could get.
But most of all was the fact that I felt so helpless with the awful things that's were being shown on my TV screen. Worse than that - I was becoming desensitised to them.
I was watching news reports of whole villages being murdered by extremists, runners in marathons losing legs from bombs that were designed to inflict mass carnage and politicians who are trusted with the running our nations flinging childish insults at their opposition like a couple of pre teen twats.
I was watching all this whilst I sat on my comfy couch drinking my nice hot cup of coffee like it was completely normal.
Seriously WHAT the F***?
How can one become desensitised to the ridiculousness of political puppetry, crimes against humanity, the destruction of our planet and innocent children and their families being blown to smithereens?
How is there anything even remotely normal about being desensitised to any of that?
I can only guess that it is because I became so used to see this kind of stuff in movies, and then suddenly I am watching on helplessly as those scenes play out for real on my TV screen. I stood in my kitchen preparing dinner whilst those people on our TVs are living real life nightmares that they cannot simply turn off because they don't like what they see.
For real - I couldn't help them and it hurts to watch so I turned it off?
What an arrogant asshole I was.
I recently began to watch the news again, because I have come to realise that I need to have the shit shocked out of the bubble I live in. I need to look at those horrific pictures of how my brothers and sisters are suffering so that I appreciate how freaking good I have it and get off my ass and do something to help wherever I can.
But how do you reach all these people in the world to help them?
You can't. You can't help everyone, but we can start by helping the ones we can reach.
It would be a hard person to not be affected by the death of Robin Williams. I myself was completely shattered about the loss of a fellow battler of the Black Dog. An incredible man who gave so much of himself to making others laugh and feel good, when inside himself he was far from smiling.
The news report I was watching was discussing the method he used to take his own life and once again my anger at sensationalised news reporting rose to the surface.
I'm sorry but how is that going to help his family survive this awful nightmare they find themselves in? How does that help the millions of people who are battling depression themselves and do not need any flipping suggestions on how one successfully ends their despair?
But it does act as a sober reminder of just how many of our friends and strangers are walking around us wearing big smiles when inside they are dying. And unlike the poor victims on the Gaza or in war torn countries, we can physically reach these people and the NEED our help.
Let's not let the death of such an incredible man go to waste. Let's not become desensitised to the thousand of people who commit suicide every year when this is a situation where we can possibly help.
Make a promise to check in with all your loved ones regularly. Ask them how they are doing and don't be fooled by a smile if your gut tells you otherwise.
Ask your neighbours, ask the mum's at school, ask the quiet kid you see on the bus every day on your way home from work or school - are you OK?.
Be kind to everyone you cross paths with because you may be the only good thing in their dark day.
This is one situation we don't have to watch on helplessly and we can't afford to turn away from. We can help to avoid someone we know and love becoming just another news story on in the background as we go about making our dinner.
If you need help or know someone who does - please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.