Battling the Storm Within

Monday, October 27, 2014

COLUMN: Understanding mental illnesses, suicide

In the wake of Robin Williams’ tragic death, and in preparation for International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day (Nov. 22), I have been engaged in a number of personal and professional discussions regarding the nature of suicide and the view some have that this is a “selfish” act. In an effort to honor the lives of those who completed suicide, and the families left to struggle with the lifelong impact of such a painful loss, I want to take this opportunity to describe what my work as a mental health counselor has led me to believe about suicide including the events leading to such a final act.

I suspect many of you at one point or another have already read suicide prevention articles or pamphlets or sat in on presentations regarding the “warning signs” of suicide. Williams certainly fits the national profile of one most likely to complete a suicide – white, middle-aged, male and a history of mental illness. I believe it is of particular importance to note the “middle-aged” part of this description.


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