The tragic suicide of Germany's best goalgetter - How can we change the public image of mental disorders?
The recent suicide death of Robert Enke age 32 left Germany stunned, sending the soccer-obsessed country into mourning and leaving the national team without its top goalkeeper for next year’s World Cup. Enke’s widow appeared at a news conference yesterday, saying her husband battled major depression for 6 years before he stepped onto the tracks and was hit by an express train not far from his home in Hannover.
Enke and his wife adopted a girl in May who is now 8 months old, and Teresa Enke said her husband hid his illness because he was afraid the infant would be taken away from the family if his depression became known. He also feared that he would lose his status as the number 1 goalgetter in Germany. In a suicide note, Enke apologized to his family and the staff treating him for deliberately misleading them into believing he was better.
A few days before the suicide his psychotherapist strongly recommended he go to a clinic for at least 2 weeks and ask his club and the national team coach for sick leave. Enke refused. Everyone in Germany would ask what he would be doing in a clinic. When people realize he has a mental illness, they would no longer see him as a soccer hero. Everybody would think he is crazy, he is a nutcase and abandon him. That’s what he thought.
No athlete has a problem checking into a hospital for the treatment of a concussion for example. I think the reason is the public perception of particular illnesses. I think no one should be ashamed to acknowledge that he or she suffers from depression or general anxiety disorder or any other mental disorder. But until the public image remains the way it is right now athletes and celebrities will be very careful. In the case of Robert Enke he would rather die than face the public reaction. Something needs to be done. Therefore my question:
How can we change the public image of mental disorders?
On Fluther I noticed that several people have openly shared that they are suffering from certain mental disorders. But Fluther is not real life. People can chose a nickname and remain anonymous. Robert Enke was a public figure.