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August 12, 2014 06:11 PM

A Conversation About Depression

Sioux Falls, SD

"Kevin was the kind of person that his friends went to if they needed advice or if they needed someone to be there for them. He was a kind, compassionate person. Living of his friends," Cindy Schmit said.

Two years ago, Cindy Schmit's life was forever changed when her 20-year-old son, Kevin, took his own life.

"There were no signs of depression at all and 10-percent of the people that commit suicide, it isn't because of depression," Schmit said.

While incidents like Robin Williams' death understandably raise unwelcome memories, she also hopes it can be used to prevent more senseless deaths.

"I hope that everyone will always choose life and that they will love each other," Schmit said.

Unbelievably, Kevin's wasn't the only suicide to forever shadow Schmidt's life. Her best friend's 18-year-old daughter also committed suicide just two weeks ago.

"She was different from Kevin. She had been struggling with depression. But it doesn't matter; losing a loved one is losing a loved one," Schmit said.

As a survivor, Schmit now wants those still untouched by such tragedies to remember one thing.

"They are everybody, every day people and we want to talk about our loved ones and we would...a hug is all that we need and you don't have to hug people, but let them know that you are thinking about them and that they are not alone," Schmit said.

Schmidt is speaking out today in hopes of keeping Kevin's memory alive and in hopes of keep other's alive.

"I hope that everybody realizes that suicide can happen to anyone, any family," Schmit said.

How To Talk About Suicide
When talking to a suicidal person

• Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
• Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
• Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.
• Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
• If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.
But don’t:
• Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: "You have so much to live for," "Your suicide will hurt your family," or “Look on the bright side.”
• Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
• Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
• Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.
• Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.


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