Sometimes it's not about saving a planet, it's about saving one life.
During the 'Grounded' arc (from June 2010 to August 2011), Superman seemed to be suffering from a crisis of confidence. He was saving the world over and over, but on a small scale people were still suffering and dying. He couldn't be in two places at once. So he took some time away from the Justice League. And while he was traveling, he listened.
The World Health Organization has reported that suicide is one of the leading causes of death around the world for people between the ages of fifteen and forty-four.
There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Over 800,000 people die by suicide every year.
Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment.
An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors.
Felicity Rose isn't alone.
Redditor iamjackslackofhope shared their story in 2010 after reading the following panels from All-Star Superman:
I have struggled with depression ever since I was ten years old. It had crippled me emotionally. I was 27 years old, no college degree, no job, and no will to live. I decided to kill myself after Christmas.
And then my sister’s boyfriend loaned me these comics. Superman is dying of radiation poisoning and is trying to complete all of his tasks before he dies, but he still takes the time to save a young girl who is about to jump off a building.
I cried for hours after reading this. I identified with that girl so much, ans I could almost hear Superman telling me that I’m stronger than I think.
Now, every time my depression starts to rear its ugly head, I just repeat his words and imagine him hugging me when I’m standing on the edge. It works better than any medication or therapy I’ve ever had.
Now I’m in college and at the top of my class. I have friends. I have a life. And I don’t care that he’s a fictional comic book character. He still saved me.
When we talk about heroes, when we talk about why they matter, it's not because they're faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive.
It's because of their capacity for empathy. Their willingness to fight for us, again and again, long after we thing there's nothing left to fight for. Our heroes have the courage to do what's right, to be patient and kind when it would be easier to be harsh and demanding. They have the power to save us. All we have to do is let them.