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Despair, Depression and Suicide

Robin Williams

Today, upon arriving home from work, I learned Robin Williams had died. I initially thought of his heart as the cause of death because he had his aortic valve replaced a few years ago. Then I read that the Tiburon County sheriff and coroner gave the cause of death as asphyxiation. As I write this, it is unclear exactly what that means “death by asphyxiation” but the leading method of suicide is hanging.

Nearly a million people world wide commit suicide every year. Ten to twenty times as many people attempt suicide. And men are four times more likely to be suicidal and when men attempt suicide, they are tragically more likely to succeed. Women make more suicidal gestures. Suicide and attempted suicide is often associated with alcohol abuse, substance abuse and several forms of mental illness. Universally, suicide is ALWAYS associated with despair, an utter and complete loss of hope. We hear about the celebrities who commit suicide but more frequently, the suicidal person is a person sitting beside you in church, walking through the mall, sitting on the bleaches at their child’s football practice or serving you food at a restaurant. Despair crosses all economical and social lines, it effects all ethnicities and classes. Certainly financial stress and personal hardships can compound despair and depression, but too often, the person in despair and who is at risk for becoming suicidal looks, functions and acts normally……until they don’t. And in a flash, their life is lost.

If you struggle with despair, call a friend. Call anyone. Try to expose to someone, anyone how bleak you are and that you fear you are in danger. Call for help whether that is a Suicide Hotline, a family member, your pastor or spiritual counselor. If nothing else, get out of your house and into someplace will other living souls. Companionship and association combat the despair. When morning arrives, call your doctor and get an appointment. When they ask you why you’ve come in to the office say, “I am sad and I have no hope.”

Ask for help.

–Dr. Sanders