A Tribute to Robin Williams

Countless touching comments, stories, and memories of Robin Williams have been shared this week, and I feel compelled to write as well on a topic many struggle to discuss: suicide. I have personally been touched by three individuals I knew well who committed suicide, and in my practice treat individuals with suicidal thoughts; and family members who have been impacted by a loved one’s taking his or her own life, or attempting to. The aftermath is devastating and long-lasting.

Clinicians actively assess suicide from three distinct viewpoints: 1 — thoughts, which are more common than one would expect. 2 — a plan; does the person have a specific plan, and the means to carry out that plan? and finally 3 — intent. Does this person really intend to hurt themselves? A trained mental health professional knows the difference between suicidal thoughts (also called suicidal ideation); a thought with a plan, and a thought with intent, and a plan. Any thought to harm one’s self should be taken VERY seriously, with discussion about in-patient treatment.

Good, effective treatment for depression is available! Consult your primary care physician, your insurance company, mental health professionals in your area, on-line and community resources. Loved ones: you may have to help facilitate treatment for your family member or friend if he or she is deeply depressed; typically that person may not have the motivation or energy to navigate the often complicated mental health system.

The old adage that if a person mentions suicide, it is unlikely that they will actually commit the act is ABSOLUTELY WRONG! Any mention of suicide should be taken seriously, and dealt with immediately. Suicidal thoughts are an indication that depression may be moving from moderate to severe in intensity. Seek help right away.

Finally, for those of you who have lost a loved one, my heart weeps for you. Not only is there the loss of your loved one, but the thought that perhaps something more could have been done; perhaps a sign was missed, and opportunity not seen. My only thought is that perhaps the pain of this life is too much for some people; especially those who care and feel deeply. And that the soul is finally at peace.

And for Robin Williams: Nanu Nanu.

Posted on by Diane in Adult Therapy, Counseling, index, Mental Health

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