"The only thing she'd say was that she was so alone."
"Sometimes she'd be holding the baby on her hip, and one child in each hand and trying to walk with her groceries at the same time, and she'd drop the diapers or something on the ground. She couldn't handle everything at once."
"She started calling family and apologizing and saying sorry and it was like nobody knew why."
It isn't hindsight that tells us why LaShonda Armstrong drove herself and her family into the Hudson River, killing herself and three of her four children. It isn't the sum of her life as recalled by others. Any one stressful detail of her life put her at risk for depression. One detail in particular doubled her risk for suicide—and no one is talking about it.
The why is answered in the information about recognizing and helping the depressed and suicidal person, which has been spoken, printed, published and repeated thousands of times over. So for the umpteen-thousandth time—plus one:
FACT: No one can predict what a distressed person will do.
That's the whole point of every book, video, lecture, seminar, brochure, leaflet, pamphlet, and billboard listing the warning signs and risk factors for depression and suicide. No one can predict what the depressed and suicidal person will do.
MYTH: No one can assume a distressed person will do something.
Yes, you can assume the distressed person is going to do something and it won't be pretty. Assume it and act accordingly. An overwhelmed person's signs of distress must be taken seriously, be given due attention, and be reported to a help agency when things don't get better. Don't leave this person to their own devices.
MYTH: Depressed people are always sad and/or crying.
FACT: Not all depressed people express sadness and/or cry.
Depression is a vacuum on emotion, motivation, and energy. It leaves a person numb, and ironically, in pain. Some rage, others drink heavily or do drugs. Some hold their pain inside, and as a result may suddenly lose or gain a lot of weight, have anxiety or panic attacks or suffer stress cardiomyopathy (Broken Heart Syndrome).