If you haven’t read him, you should

navy anti-suicide poster

The news from California is that Robin Williams, that irreverent clown who has been part of our lives for as long as we can remember, is dead at age 63. It was suicide the authorities say, asphyxiation following a bout of depression.
 
Robin Williams was a public figure and over the years, he was honest with us about his problems and his recurring issues with substance abuse. This man, wealthy and talented, old enough to have seen so much of life and to understand its value reached a point where he could no longer go on.
 
I can’t begin to imagine the pain he was in, the agony of those last few hours, the torture of his mind. Then the planning, even if only for a few brief moments before, mechanically gathering the tools to take his own life. The anguish of those final seconds, when the realization came that the point of no return had passed and that this was it.
 
Every day, every single day, there are people like Robin Williams, dealing with problems that seem insurmountable. They are our friends, our co-workers, and our family. Some of them are open about their depression but many suffer in silence.
 
According to the CDC, in 2011 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), there were 39,518 suicides reported – someone in the country died by suicide every 13.3 minutes.
 
If you know someone you suspect might be suicidal, don’t be afraid to get involved. Your silence, your wanting to give them space or to stay out of their business might just as easily be perceived as a lack of caring. Nobody wants to be alone.
 
If you are depressed and the hours of darkness are becoming too much, write down this number, put it in your phone, or commit it to memory: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
 
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has trained counselors available to help. Visit their website at: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
 
Go to a hospital emergency room, an urgent care center, or public health clinic or call 911.
 
Whatever you do, don’t just sit there until it becomes too much. We lost Robin Williams; don’t let us lose anyone else.

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