Opinion

No one should suffer alone, in silence from depression

An editorial from The Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — It might seem strange to start an editorial piece with a phone number. But it’s an important number. It’s the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

It might also seem strange to be addressing such a serious topic nearly a month before the week and day dedicated to suicide prevention. After all, it’s mid-August. Thoughts this time of year typically center around back-to-school routines and the start of fall sports. And National Suicide Prevention Week doesn’t take place until early next month, with the Monday through Sunday surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10) set aside to promoting awareness about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide.

But the untimely death of actor and comedian Robin Williams has shifted the focus back to this important issue.

The news broke late Monday evening that the comedian and Academy Award winner had died in an apparent suicide due to asphyxia. The 63-year-old actor was known for a number of memorable roles, including on the TV show “Mork & Mindy” as well as in films such as “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

But as The Associated Press reported in the hours after his death, even though Williams was often the funniest guy in the room, he suffered for years from periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression. His press representative confirmed that Williams had been battling severe depression recently, and just last month, the actor announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program. He previously sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse following 20 years of sobriety.

Sadly, Williams’ situation wasn’t unique…

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