Mental health problems do not affect three or four out of every five persons but one out of one. ~William Menninger
The recent suicide death of actor, Robin Williams, has had a deep impact on people of all ages and walks of life. His talents have undoubtedly crossed our paths in one way or another over the past 30+ years. It is strange to think that the death of this man, a stranger to most of us, has such an impact. But the impact is unmistakable.
The truth is that we do not know Robin Williams on a personal level. Most of us have never met him or spoken to him. However, we have invited him into our homes, hearts, and lives through his movies and various roles. In his death, he represents to us our friends and family and loved ones. He is a face that we now associate with depression and suicide. He was someone who outwardly to the world seemed “okay” and “happy” and “funny,” though privately was suffering with the weight of depression. He was someone who appeared to many to have everything; family, success, money, fame, and more. Yet, he still suffered with depression.
His death serves as a reminder of our own vulnerability and the vulnerability of our loved ones. Anyone can have experience depression. You, your mother, brother, best friend, or child, or a stranger on the street. Robin Williams’s death brings this vulnerability frighteningly close to home.
Mental health problems affect everyone. You do not need to be suffering from a mental illness to be affected by mental illness, as each of us knows someone who is, whether or not we realize it. It may be depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. But we all know someone who suffers, whether silently, or out loud.
Mental illness unfortunately continues to carry a stigma in our world, despite the prevalence. There is stigma associated with having a mental illness, of seeking treatment for mental illness, as well as not seeking treatment for mental illness. For many people, there seems to be no solution.
If you find that you, or someone you love is experiencing depression or having thoughts of suicide, please get help. Contact a professional, whether a counselor, psychologist or other mental health professional as there is help available. You may also contact a 24-hour crisis line for assistance for yourself or your loved one at 1-800-248-7475.
Karen Rosian, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist