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A Lesson in the Loss of Robin Williams

When events like this occur, for many news outlets it’s an opportunity to have some new content and talk about another star who left the spotlight too early, but this time it’s different.

Williams wasn’t just another celebrity with addiction issues and continual streaks of destructive behavior, he was real about his struggles and it comes as even more of a shock given his ability to bring so much joy to others. From children to adults, Williams was the comedian for the whole family. But it just goes to show that those who can have the happiest of personas, can also be in some of the deepest and darkest places in the recesses of their own mind.

And while newsfeeds are flooded with Robin Williams‘ quotes, rehashing of his past, and remarks on how we will miss such a pivotal figure in our upbringings, it would be a disservice to Williams’ legacy if we didn’t take the opportunity to address the importance of seeking out help.

According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education Association (SAVE), suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year and many who attempt suicide never seek out professional care. This means that if you haven’t personally experienced suicidal thoughts, chances are you know someone who has or is battling those thoughts.

Whether you’re the one going through depression or another mental illness that includes thoughts of suicide, or you know someone who is, these are the things we hope you can glean from the loss of Robin Williams:

 

You Are Never Alone

Despite what your mind is telling you, your absence will matter and you not being around will not benefit anyone. A common thought when contemplating suicide is that the world, your family, your loved ones will have a better life without you and they can finally be free from the pain you cause them.

This is simply not true. Not only are you not alone in your pain (your loved ones are either already feeling pain knowing you are suffering, or will be if you follow through with suicide), but there are many others who are having the same thoughts you are.

Reach out to anyone and ask for help. They may not be able to provide the exact help you need, but they will hold on to you while they find it with you.

 

The Right Help is Available

Another common thought for those contemplating suicide is that someone won’t be able to help them. There are many channels in which you can receive professional help, and some will be a better fit that others, but you have to take the first step of seeking it out. The next step from there can be determined with the aid of a medical professional.

 

Nothing is Too Drastic

If you feel like you’re starting to lose control, don’t think about what might seem like an overreaction. Let your instinct be to dial 911 or check yourself in to an emergency room. Contemplating suicide is an emergency, and rather than allowing yourself to weigh the options, let your first option be immediate medical attention.

 

Know the Warning Signs

From SAVE:

These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

 

For more information on depression, mental health and suicide including warning signs, common misconceptions, resources for seeking out help, and how to cope with loss or those who have survived, please visit SAVE.

In an emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

 

 

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Elle Michels

Elle Michels

Based in Washington, D.C., Elle Michels is a contributing writer to Womenshealth.com.

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