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Opinion

Readers React: How depression can overwhelm one’s ability to think or hope, and increase the risk of suicide

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Kayla Stoecklein at the grave of her husband, Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, at Oak Park Cemetery in Claremont.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The story of Pastor Andrew Stoecklein’s illness and suicide is heartbreaking, and it is discouraging that so many people don’t understand the pain of depression that leads to suicide. People often confuse depression with ordinary sadness, a lack of faith in God or a moral failing.

Imagine yourself suffering from an overwhelming sense of pain from which you can find no relief. Then, imagine that pain overwhelms your ability to think, causing you to believe that this pain can never be relieved.

Your ability to hope is gone because the pain — a psychic pain — is controlling your thinking. You are unable to think of those who love you or of those you love, because so strong is this pain, and so disturbed is your thinking.

This is the illness of severe depression, and these are the symptoms that lead to suicide.

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Richard W. Merel, MD, Hermosa Beach

The writer is a retired physician who specialized in child and adult psychiatry.

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