The news that Robin Williams had died, hit me hard. This incredible funny man was introduced to me as an alien on Mork and Mindy. Immediately, one could see the quick wit of a comedian destined for stardom. He made us laugh! Then he broadened his stage to movies and made us cry, cheer and feel intense emotions. Both laughter and sadness were emotions he managed to bring out in all of us. And now, as it appears he died at this own hand, we feel sadness as we remember his laughter.
Williams, like so many people, battled depression. We know in 2006, he checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center after 20 years of sobriety. Alcohol and drug use often co-exist with depression. He talked openly about his cocaine addiction during the 1970s and 1980s. We know that in 2009, Williams underwent aortic value replacement surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. Depression is not uncommon for people with heart disease. Depression can increase the disease or heart disease can cause depression.
We know that as late as June of this year, Williams went back to rehab once again to deal with his sobriety. And we know that as of late, he was struggling with severe depression.
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. It is highest among the young and the elderly. More men complete suicide than women. The risk of suicide with major depression is about 20 times greater than the general population.
Warning signs of depression include:
Sad or depressed mood
Weight gain or loss, change in appetite
Restlessness, agitation, irritability
Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt
Problems with thinking and concentration, indecisiveness
Thoughts of death, suicide attempts or a plan to die
If you know someone struggling with depression, get him or her help. Depression is treatable but less than 25% of those depressed receive adequate treatment according to the World Health Organization.
Sadly, Williams didn’t win his battle with depression and we say goodbye. He’ll be remembered for all the laughter he gave to so many.