Monday, September 01, 2014


Robin Williams’ suicide underscores a major problem

It has been several weeks, but many of us are still reeling from the tragic suicide of Robin Williams.  It’s difficult for us to comprehend that the entertainer who made us laugh heartily for decades could be suffering from depression so profound that he could find no other alternative to ease his pain than to take his own life.   None of us can know what someone else is experiencing in their own life.  It brings to mind the saying, “Don’t judge me until you have walked a mile in my shoes.”

Over one million people die by suicide every year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that it is the 13th-leading cause of death worldwide and the National Safety Council rates it sixth in the United States. It is a leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35.

There are many common myths about suicide, including that talking about it may give someone the idea.  The opposite is true: bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly may be one of the most helpful things you can do.  It shows you care, and it may even save a life.

Rev. John Watson is credited with saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.”  We all need to be mindful of this in our daily interactions.

World Suicide Prevention Day is Sept 10.  This awareness day is observed every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides, with various activities around the world. 

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  This is a national resource that may be accessed by anyone. If the person is a veteran, press “1” to access the Veterans Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

For hearing and speech impaired with TTY equipment : 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).

Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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