The death of Robin Williams is bringing the issue of suicide out of the shadows and creating a dialogue that mental health care experts believe is needed.
Williams was found dead in his home near San Francisco, California. Sheriff’s investigators say Williams took his own life and confirmed that he had been seeking help to deal with depression.
“Every time I hear about a suicide it rips my heart out,” Linda Sielaff said.
Sielaff understands better than most the pain that suicide brings to surviving family members. She has lost two family members to suicide.
“When you lose somebody to suicide it is a different kind of loss and it is really a lifelong process of healing,” Sielaff said.
Three years ago Sielaff started working to help other families deal with the loss of a loved one by volunteering as a facilitator for Survivors of Suicide at Journey Mental Health Center.
“It is so painful to know that there are people that are dying every day, every 40 seconds of every day globally by suicide,” Sielaff said.
In this country suicides claim the lives of more people than vehicle crashes or homicides.
Mental health care experts said it is critical that individuals at risk for suicide receive effective mental health care.
“It is critically important and we know from our experience in the mental health field, from vast amounts of research data that early intervention makes a huge difference,” said Sarah Henrickson, a counselor in the Emergency Service Unit at Journey Mental Health Center.
“We should be putting as much resources as possible with front-end assessment and intervention with people who are experienced in mental illness or addiction and the sooner that we can get people involved in treatment and provide them that hope that things can get better then the better outcomes we’ll have,” Henrickson said.
For more information about the warning signs of suicide and what to do if someone is showing signs of suicide visit Journey Mental Health Center’s website.
Anyone contemplating suicide can call the Dane County 24 Hour Emergency Crisis Line at 608-280-2600 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK OR 1-800-SUICIDE.