Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To save a life

The death yesterday of actor Robin Williams stunned the world and tributes have been coming from every direction ever since.  The man brought great joy in his stage, screen, and television work, and those who knew him personally all say what a nice person he was.  Here in the Bay Area (his home), there is a very personal kind of sadness.  Many of us had met Williams or had seen him around town.  While I could write for days on end about the talents of Robin Williams and his many contributions, I am instead going to look at just one area: his suspected cause of death. 

The Marin County Sheriff's Department issued a statement which said in part "At this time, the Sheriff's Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made."

People don't talk about suicide often enough.  It is one of those topics that just isn't discussed.  Lives can be saved though.  Years ago in Nashville, I volunteered at a suicide prevention hotline, and each day we saw results.  Each day we helped people in crisis.  I'm not a doctor and I'm not close enough to the Robin Williams investigation to say that intervention would have saved him, but I can tell you of many cases where it has saved lives and I urge you to learn a few basic things.  The first thing is you are not alone!

Before I go any further, I want to give you a telephone number. In the United States, if you need help call 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Keep this number handy too, not only for yourself, but for friends, family, coworkers, and anyone who might be in need. They also have a website for more information: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 38,364 suicides in 2010 in the United. States. To me that is a shockingly high number because suicide can be prevented. To save a life is one of the most important things a person can do. If you are experiencing thoughts of depression and suicide, reach out and get help. Don't delay. More facts from the CDC are HERE and they just might shock you.  They also have available a lot of information concerning suicide prevention.  Go to http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/
Today as you think about Robin Williams, don't rail against him or anyone else, for committing suicide.  Instead, reach out and let people know you are there for them. Although I am greatly saddened by Robin's death, I hope that awareness may help to save a life.  Nothing is more precious. 

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