Today, the world is still reeling from the announcement of actor Robin Williams’ tragic suicide, the news of which broke on Monday. Fellow celebrities as well as his family and friends are sharing their beautiful memories of him. Everyone who admired him is recalling his or her favorite movies and moments. Columnists, news anchors and bloggers are sharing their views. While there has been some negativity and harassment, overall the reactions from the public have simply been those of heartbreak, shock and sadness.
When a public figure commits suicide, especially one who was so well known and well loved as a funny man, awareness is drawn to depression and suicide. A shockwave is sent around the world. Taboo subjects are discussed and people are encouraged to seek help. Through this recent tragedy some truths have come to light, including:
- Some of the funniest people are often the saddest. Many use humor to mask their pain, and that goes for those who are not public figures as well.
- Money and success do not make people happy. Many people think that if they had only reached their goals or if only they were wealthier, they would be happier. Depression affects everyone.
- Suicide can happen to anyone, even those who have the means to seek appropriate treatment.
- Depression is often tied to other mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and substance addiction, both of which Williams suffered from.
Depression is a horrible disease, and it kills. Seeking treatment through behavioral health services, taking medication if necessary and living and active, healthy lifestyle is vital to combating depression and other mental illnesses. Robin Williams was always fairly open about his struggles with addiction and mental illness, being candid in interviews about his visits to rehab.
Yet so many people in our country are embarrassed to ask for help. Mental illness of any kind still carries such a stigma that people would rather suffer in silence and sometimes end their lives. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you suspect your child is suffering from a mental health concern, contact a child psychiatrist right away. If it’s you who is struggling, seek help yourself and set a good example for your family so they will never be embarrassed of any issues they face in the future.
Two years ago, suicide became the leading cause of death by injury in America, surpassing car accidents for the first time. Men and women between the ages of 35 and 64 are committing suicide in increasing numbers. The number of children qualifying as “disabled by mental disorders” increased by 35 times between 1987 and 2007. It is tragic that Robin Williams’ suicide wasn’t prevented, but perhaps his death will spark some much-needed discussions in our country.