Homecoming king loses life to suicide, proves depression holds no stereotype

When you hear about a young adult losing his or her life to suicide, what is the first thought that pops into your head about this person?

Chances are this image you created in your head wouldn’t be of teenage boy with a 4.3 grade point average who was voted high school homecoming king and was captain of his soccer team.

But, last week, that is exactly what happened to Michael Camilleri, a senior at Walled Lake Western High School. With only 17 years of life under his belt, Michael was found dead on Monday, Nov. 12, and the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a suicide.

Why would a young man, in the process of choosing between the University of Michigan and Stanford for college, take his life?

You would think someone with such a promising future would not have this urge to end his life so abruptly.

You would be wrong.

This is a stereotype people hold about suicide — that depression is somehow tangible and caused by an event, such as bullying or abuse. I’m not saying that these things don’t help bring depression about.

Depression is a sickness, like cancer, that some people are susceptible to. Some people never show symptoms until something horrible in their life happens to make it come out. Others have a seemingly “perfect” life, yet they can’t help but feel depressed.

Depression does not hold a stereotype. It does not only affect one kind of person, but could affect anyone. It is not something a person chooses or something that can be explained.

Imagine the feeling when you’re sad – a pressure behind your eyeballs, a constant feeling that you’re going to cry, maybe a pressure in your chest, a tightening of your throat or feeling like you're going to throw up.

For many people with depression, they get these physical effects of sadness – yet they have nothing that caused this feeling. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? It’s one thing to say you’re crying because a relationship ended or you had a bad day. It’s another entirely to be asked, “Why are you crying?” and to literally have no idea.

Common Ground Suicide Prevention Specialist Amelia Lehto said, “Depression is one of the more recognizable and common mental health issues people face today. It does not discriminate based on age, race, sex or religious affiliation and it’s often an incredibly isolating mental health issue that people face because of the stigma that surrounds it today.”

If someone is telling you they are experiencing depression or another mental illness, never ever think, “Well he/she is popular and has friends. It can’t possibly be depression.”

Instead, believe them. And get help.

Each person who loses a life to suicide is one too many. Think how much of a life Michael Camilleri had left to live — maybe to go to college, to get married, have a family, who knows, even become a famous soccer player. But now we’ll never know. And those who he left behind will always have an empty place in their hearts for him.

Walled Lake Western baseball coach Mike Larges said, “Honestly, he was exactly what you want in a kid.”

“His passing affected a lot more than just the students. … I wish I knew and could have been there. It’s eating me up as much as the kids.”

If you suffer from depression, do not be afraid to tell someone. You do not need to battle this alone. 

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  1. Michael only lived about 2 or 3 blocks away from me. He lived in the same neighborhood also. My older sister was devastated when she found out that the friend she had known her whole life, was gone forever.I was devastated also even if I didn't really know him that much. I knew that he was a great guy and he really shouldn't have left. RIP Micheal Camilleri<3<3 I love you