An Insight into Depression with Roger Von Braun

Peter Georgatos and Navneet Kaur

Today’s world is filled with negativity. The news, music, and even everyday conversations always have a cynical spin, thus contributing to the formation of negative thoughts. Constant pondering over past regrets, tragedies, and faults in oneself contributes to the development of depression, which not only hurts the individual, but also those holding special bonds. Roger Von Braun, an elementary school teacher and motivational speaker who teaches students about the dangers of negative thoughts and failing to take responsibilities, reveals his perceptions and techniques to tackle cynical thoughts.

As a child, Von Braun perceived his younger brother as “lucky.” He survived two car crashes with minor injuries, and received an opportunity to leave Riker’s Island—one of the U.S.’s worst jails—to acquire free education and shelter to turn his life around. Also, his brother obtained a clear criminal record after being arrested for attempts in selling illicit drugs. It was as if his past criminal deeds had never occurred. Despite these astonishing victories, his brother’s regrets, negative thoughts, and lack of self-esteem led to his commision of suicide. Surprisingly, when Von Braun finally solidified his career as a teacher, he noticed the “same negative mindset” among his fourth grade students.

“Once I started realizing how people felt about themselves, what they believed, [I decided to talk] about things that needed to be talked about, and needed to be addressed. The need for this message was the final push to get me to talk about this [through presentations],” Von Braun said.

During Von Braun’s assembly at Bethpage High School, he mentioned that suicide was the second largest cause of fatalities among children, after accidents, and before homicides. Many suicidal individuals may not choose to admit how they feel.

“People become uncomfortable,” he claimed. “They may shrug.” If this is the case, how can we help peers suffering from depression and contemplating to commit suicide?

“Have open conversations,” Von Braun suggested. “Most people don’t think you should ask about suicide…It’s okay to ask questions…[Talking to them] gives them an oportunity to open up. Volunteer to join in when they go for counseling. Still try to be the same; be inclusive.”

Von Braun will continue to present about the hazards of negative thoughts and methods in boosting one’s self-confidence to children in schools across the United States. But if he’s ever invited back to Bethpage High School, he’d gladly return to spread his message.