Last week two prominent, widely admired, successful people committed suicide. I heard a lot of misconceptions from people who most likely have never been there. The first thing you think is why anyone with money and fame would do such a thing, but money and fame have nothing to do with what is happening in the depressed person's mind. It's a physical imbalance. It is not rational.
Many years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression (and two other temporary mental illnesses) that occurred for a very specific reason in my life. I had counseling and medication. I got well and it is not a chronic problem for me. I can't really imagine living through it again or what it would be like to battle this disease all of my life. Some people do and this is why they cannot take it any more.
Depression is not sadness or discouragement—it is utter hopelessness. It is not feeling anything, not caring about anything, it is like already being dead. When you are hopeless and cannot feel human feelings your life does not matter to you and you cannot imagine that it ever will. This, of course, is not true. It is not rational thinking.
You will hear things like - remember how many people love you, think about your children, it will get better. The problem with those thoughts is that they involve emotions and reasoning and when you are clinically depressed you cannot understand those thoughts and cannot feel hope in them. If you've never felt complete hopelessness it is almost impossible to comprehend.
I did not seriously contemplate suicide. I do remember wanting to get away from myself, but there was no way to do that. I hated myself. I hated being so weak, so sick, for worrying the people who loved me and I would have done almost anything to end that experience. I thought about how everyone would be better off without me, which is pretty close to life-ending thinking. In my mind I knew hope existed but I could not feel it or sense any light at the end of the tunnel. That's exactly why it's depression.
So when you wonder how someone could do such a thing to themselves or to their family remember that at the moment of their decision it didn't matter at all.