Local Mental Health Official Says Robin Williams Death an Opportunity For Community Education & Advocacy
Following the death of actor Robin Williams local mental health advocates are hoping the death of the well known comedian will serve as an opportunity for those struggling with depression to seek help and for the community to be more aware of those among us who may be at risk of suicide.
Garra Lloyd Lester the Youth Services Development Director for the Cortland County Mental Health Department says the unexpected death of such as well known actor as Williams provides a valuable opportunity for the community to revive the dialogue on depression and the other issues that lead to suicide.
Lester says it's important to keep an eye on friends and loved ones particularly during life changing moments such as unexpected losses of loved ones, divorce, job loss or other events that could trigger depression. The vast majority of those individuals that take their own life suffer from some form of clinical depression or other mental illness.
Signs that someone may be considering taking their own life can included but are not limited to increases in chemical or substance use, talking or writing about death, feelings of hopelessness, rage or uncontrolled anger, engaging in risky behavior, isolation from friends and family, sleeplessness, dramatic mood swings. Another sign is someone saying good-bye to friends and family or giving away possessions.
Lester says as uncomfortable as it can be to confront someone you believe may be thinking of hurting themselves he says think about the alternative if you don't.
Teens, the elderly, and veterans are among the highest risk groups for suicide but, Lester says suicide is not restricted by class, race, religion, or neighborhood.
Lester compared identifying those at risk of a potential suicide to providing first-aid to someone injured on the street. You don't have to provide the life saving treatment, instead you need to be able to connect the individual to a medical professional who can.
September 8th-14th is National Suicide Awareness Week. If you have questions or concerns you can contact the Cortland County Mental Health Office at 758-6100, the suicide prevention hotline in Tompkins County at 272-1616, for more immediate concerns call 9-1-1.
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