NEWS10 Special Report: Seeing the Signs

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Dominick Rizzo told his mother he wanted to die when he was 7-years-old.  He has fought depression and suicidal thoughts his whole life, even attempting suicide in his late 20’s, but he believes he is breaking the deadly grip depression holds on him.

“What I wish people would understand is nobody wakes up in the morning and says I’m going to be depressed. It just happens, you have no choice,” Rizzo said.

Dominick does have many other choices: To do his job well as a chef at the Beverwyck Senior Community where he has worked for several years, to write beautiful poems that help keep him in the light, and to talk openly about the pain of depression.

“You can let it build up and become a shell of a person and ultimately decide to do the ultimate and take your own life, which is pure desperation,” said Rizzo.

Dominick was that desperate once. He tried to kill himself when he was 29-years-old, but he thought about it many times since he was a child.

“How could a little kid want to kill themselves? They have everything to live for, but little kids can have some significant sadness,” said Dr. Doberman.

Dr. Frank Doberman is a child and family psychologist who says the first thing you say to your child or loved one when you hear such sadness is simple.

“I love you very much dear, there is nothing here that we can’t work together to make better,” said Dr.Doberman.

Then you ask specific questions and get them to talk about it.

“Asking for help is not a weakness. Asking for help is the first way to start making yourself feel better,” he said.

Dominick asked for help through his writing.

“I think writing saved my life,” he said.

He has written poems since he was 12-years-old, compiling them a few years ago into this book: The Spiral Staircase of My Life.

Dominick’s poetry speaks to his pain and to what he has come to understand.

“When a person puts a knife to their wrist, a gun to their head or write a suicide note, they are not in the right state of mind. It is not normal,” he said.

But it is real. Dr. Doberman says we can help our children in their fight against depression by teaching them two things in particular: To be resilient and tolerant.

“Entitlement is a sense of gain without effort. True happiness comes from feeling and working hard,” He said. “It must be hard, but if you wait a little bit it will get easier. It is the idea that we don’t have to make an instant end to their discomfort. I am talking about all of the little instances before when we are teaching the children to be resilient and tolerant,” said Dr. Doberman

Dr. Doberman says to not ask your kids what grade they are getting, but how hard did you work they work in class. It’s just one of the many small things we can do to build resiliency and tolerance in our children and help them if depression does get a dark grip on their life.

If you know someone who is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please have them call the suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK or visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website, here:

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