The Aug. 11 suicide of comedian and Oscar-winning actor
Robin Williams stunned individuals around the world. Both celebrity costars and
everyday fans alike have shared feelings of disbelief, grief and wishes that he
had gotten help to prevent such a tragic loss. The Hollywood reporter quoted
Williams’s publicist as saying the star recently had been battling “severe depression.”
And while millions of Americans are directly affected by
the more than 37,000 suicides and hundreds of thousands of suicide attempts
made every year by friends or loved ones, there is hope: Suicide is preventable. And there are places to turn for help.
There are resources to help Marylanders grappling with suicidal
thoughts, behaviors or impulses. The Maryland Crisis Hotline is 1-800-422-0009.
This is a statewide, 24-hour crisis intervention and supportive counseling
hotline for suicide, family and relationship problems, shelter needs, violent
or threatening domestic situations, loneliness, depression, chemical dependency
issues and others crises. Likewise, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is
1-800-273-TALK (8255). Callers are connected to 24-hour crisis support
counseling from a local center.
The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide.
The risk of suicide is greater, if a behavior is new or has increased and if it
seems related to a painful event, loss or change. Warning signs include if people are:
- Talking about wanting to die or to end their lives.
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching
online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated or behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or becoming isolated.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs,
seek help as soon as possible by calling The Maryland Crisis Hotline at
Risk factors for suicide
(From the Suicide Prevention Resource Center)
- Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders,
schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders.
- Alcohol and other substance-use disorders.
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies.
- History of trauma or abuse.
- Major physical illnesses.
- Previous suicide attempts.
- Family history of suicide.
- Job or financial loss.
- Loss of a relationship.
- Easy access to lethal means.
- Local clusters of suicide.
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation.
- Stigma associated with asking for help.
- Lack of health care, especially mental health and
substance abuse treatment.
- Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that
suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma.
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life
or via the media and Internet).
Again, the Maryland Crisis Hotline is 1-800-422-0009. For
more information from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s
Mental Health Administration, visit http://dhmh.maryland.gov/mha/SitePages/Home.aspx.