Thursday, August 14, 2014

APA Reaches Out in Wake of Robin Williams' Death

Every day in the United States an average of 108 people die by suicide, a statistic brought into tragic prominence earlier this week as the nation focused on the death of comedian and actor Robin Williams. Williams had publicly acknowledged his struggles with substance abuse and depression.

The tragedy provided an opportunity to educate the public about mental illness, risks of suicide, and the importance of reaching out for help and seeking treatment. Many news outlets ran stories about mental illness and about its presumed presence in creative people.

“It’s very important that we stop seeing these illnesses as false and stop blaming patients and see them for what they are—which are medical conditions, genetic conditions, brain disorders that require appropriate diagnosis, treatment, care, and support," said APA President Paul Summergrad, M.D., in an interview on NBC Nightly News.

Mental illnesses can be just as fatal as big killers like cancer or heart disease, said Thomas Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health, in his blog. “We must continue to invest in research to develop new and more effective treatments for people with depression and other mental illnesses. The goal must be a future in which no lives are lost as a result of suicide.”

“It is natural under such circumstances to experience feelings of deep sadness and loss,” noted APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “APA continues to provide expert interviews and public education resources on bipolar disorder, depression, suicidality, substance and alcohol use, and their treatments.”

For more information on suicide, see APA's website.

Here are some of the media vehicles in which APA members shared their expertise with the public.

CBS: Robin Williams' death highlights challenge of treating severe depression

USA Today: Robin Williams: A link between genius, mental illness? Robin Williams' Death Shows Need to Raise Depression Awareness

NBC: Robin Williams' Death Sheds Light on Depression in America

(image: s_bukley/shutterstock)


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.