TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The apparent suicide death of Academy Award winning actor Robin Williams is shedding light on mental health disorders.
He was pronounced dead at his San Francisco home on Monday. Williams, who was 63, had been battling severe depression.
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A comedic genius known for his impeccable whit and unmatched performances, but behind that contagious smile Robin Williams fought an internal battle one that Therapist Missy Burton said does not discriminate.
“Whether you have all the money in the world or you have very little anyone can suffer depression. At times there are biological connections where there might be a family history. Other times there are just significant stressors in their life,” said Burton, with the Hamilton Center.
Williams also suffered a public and long time battle with addiction.
“Someone who suffers from depression may self medicate, where drinking alcohol which is also considered a depressant, it could also help deaden those stressors,” said Burton.
Williams created the hilarious characters we’ve grown to love, one’s many saw as a classic shield for deeper feelings.
“How are you today, I’m fine, that’s the typically socially appropriate answer when so often we are not fine. I do think we can mask it but also we don’t want to talk about it,” said Burton.
Now friends of the comedian are urging others to know the warning signs.
“You notice a change in somebody, and sometimes we aren’t brave enough to step outside the box and say I’ve noticed things that are different about you,” said Burton.
The most important indicator is one that is often ignored.
“Somebody who has been down and irritable they may suddenly seem very lighthearted and the people around them may relax, but what we are really looking at is a young person or an adult who has made the decision to take their own life,” said Burton.
An open dialogue may save those we love.
“Being brave enough to step up and say, you know I apologize if I’m getting in your space, but I care enough about you to talk about something hard,” said Burton.
If someone you know needs help there are resources listed below: