I’m continually astounded by how fragile life is. As we go through our time on this earth, we are forced to come to terms with this upsetting reality, and so often it’s a result of the news of an unexpected and tragic death. A life cut short.
Probably nothing causes us more confusion than learning that this abrupt ending to a life was carried out intentionally. People around the world will fall asleep tonight asking themselves the unanswerable “Why?” after hearing about the tragic death, a suspected case of suicide, of Robin Williams. An actor whose humor and smile touched the lives of so many during the past few decades. A comedian who in trying to make us smile, may have lost his own joy. While the weeks and months to come may shed some light onto the reasons behind his death, anyone who has personally been affected by suicide knows that no answers are enough to bring about complete understanding. No clues as to “why” will ever fill the void left by a person who disappeared from this earth when least expected. Even for us mental health specialists, it can be tricky to determine when a suicide is likely.
Robin Williams may have shown warning signs due to his recent battle with severe depression, but even in these cases the risk is not always apparent. This is often because when someone has ultimately made the decision to end their life, their mood actually lifts and this improvement can be interpreted as a sign that they’re on the road to recovery.
Even so, The Mental Health America website notes that “eight out of ten people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions.” So educate yourself about the warning signs, as well as the common misconceptions regarding suicide. Bringing up the topic of suicide with someone you’re concerned about will not give them the idea to commit suicide. But it can provide them with the opportunity to share with you their need to get help. Even if they resist getting help, it is absolutely essential for a person who is contemplating suicide to get professional help.
If you, or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please call Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) in the USA. Outside of the USA, please visit this site to find your local crisis center.