Robin Williams Suicide highlights importance of treatment

Robin Williams Suicide highlights importance of treatment

Just yesterday the news of of the tragic loss of a treasured Hollywood star, Robin Williams, hit the headlines. Sadly, it appears that the 63 year old comedian and actor took his own life. Robin Williams has been open about his diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, not only as a source of pain, but also as a source of inspiration. He has been reported to have used his depressive and manic episodes as catalysts for his creative genius.

Too often our headlines are littered with the news that a beloved, respected and well known celebrity has committed suicide, often leaving a wake of disbelief, grief and wondering of what more could have been done. But what about what is left off of the headlines? The Center for Disease Control reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in individuals 10 years of age and older. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness it is the 3rd leading cause of death among youth aged 15-24.

Over 90 percent of people who commit suicide have been diagnosed with mental illness commonly including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders and eating disorders. Substance abuse and addiction are also associated with an increased risk of suicide. While mental illness may be a risk factor, by no means is it a death sentence. While there may be no cure for mental illness, every mental illness is treatable and can be managed into complete remission. With strong support, appropriate treatment and time Suicide is 100% preventable.

Lisa Saponaro, Ph.D. is committed to increasing awareness of suicide prevention through education, assessment and treatment of the underlying emotions, thoughts and beliefs that may increase suicide risk. You too can do your part by becoming educated about the warning signs and actions to take if you suspect a loved one may be a risk for suicide.

Warning signs may include, but are not limited to:

  • Talking about death and dying
  • Giving away personal belonging
  • Speaking about meeting or being with someone who has died
  • Expressions of powerlessness or hopelessness
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Sudden termination of psychotherapy, pharmacological treatment or other wellness activities.
  • Increase in drug and/or alcohol use
  • Increase in the severity and/ or frequency of self-injurious behaviors and/or high risk behaviors.

Here are some considerations in joining the fight for Suicide Prevention:

If you suspect a friend of love one may be suicidal – don’t be afraid to ask “Are you suicidal?” While many report concerns with discussing suicide with a love one leading to suicide, there is no such effect and in fact more often leads to needed help.

The most loving act you can do for a loved one you suspect may be suicidal is to encourage them to get help. Encourage them to call 911, go to your nearest emergency room or utilize a suicide hotline such as 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255) from the American Association of Suicidology.

An individual who is suicidal is likely to be experiencing a profound sense of hopelessness, powerlessness and loneliness. Efforts to connect your loved one to help show that there is a way out and that they are NOT ALONE. Never forget that there is always, always ALWAYS someone and more likely many people who are waiting, willing and motivated to help and carve a path out of the darkness. Dr. Saponaro is a licensed psychologist providing mental health services to the local south florida area with a practice located at:

120 S. University Drive, Suite A
Plantation, FL 33324

It has been said that suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem. We may never know the profound distress that lead Robin Williams to take his own life, but we can learn from this tragedy, grieve, and then march forward in the fight for Suicide Prevention.

Rest in peace, Mr. Williams, and thank you for the laughs.

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