Living in the Shadows of Suicide

By Danielle Sposato

On August 11, beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams left the world in tears and disarray when he decided to take his own life. Williams has always had a history of mental illness, as well as depression and addiction, and struggled with it throughout his career, according to John M. Grohol’s Pysch Central article entitled, “Robin Williams, Mental Illness Sufferer, Dead at 63 Due to Suicide.” All of these internal struggles led Williams to take his life. Williams’ suicide brings to light an issue that tends to lie dormant in American Society –suicide and its various causes and effects.Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 14.55.58

Have you ever felt a constant weight on your chest, that almost feels like it’s engulfing your entire being? Was there ever a time where the pain was so unbearable that you have considered taking your own life because you felt there was no other way to escape it? If you have, you are just one of many Americans that have experienced this. It’s not too late to seek help.

Every forty seconds someone around the world takes their own life, ranking at almost 800,000 suicides per year, higher than deaths caused by natural disasters and violent crime, according to Tim Hume’s CNN article entitled, “One suicide every 40 seconds: World Health Organization report” on September 5. These truths are quite alarming; how can we help to prevent this from happening? To begin, there are a few warning signs that we can look out for in case someone is feeling suicidal. Signs of suicidal tendencies include if someone talking about killing himself or herself, feeling as though they are a burden to others, or saying they feel trapped, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. As for their behavior, people who are suicidal tend to turn to alcohol and drugs heavily, withdrawing themselves from daily activities and socializing, as well as sleeping too much or too little. When we consider all of these changes in behavior, is it as obvious as it seems?

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Sometimes it may be too difficult to tell if someone is feeling suicidal. One ill-fated recent example is award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams. From the outside, he was an inspiring comedian who had passion and love for making people laugh. He’s charmed the lives of many people over the course of his career, up until his death at the young age of 63 on August 11. His death touched the hearts of many individuals, including junior Public Relations student Julie Abbruzzese. “He brought so much laughter and happiness to many people. I feel no one should leave this world the way that he did.”

When looking at a man such as Robin Williams, we would never know the internal battle that he has regrettably lost recently. “He probably thought he was alone and that his death wouldn’t matter. He must have been at war with his own mind,” Abbruzzese added. This is a prime example that it is sometimes hard to tell if someone is struggling internally to live to see the next day. Williams has battled with addiction and depression over the course of his career, but yet the public saw him as a joyful figure who always seemed cheerful and content, according to Michelle Tauber’s People magazine’s article entitled, “How Robin Williams Fought and Lost, His Battles with Addiction and Depression” on August 13.

Do you agree with the choice of taking your own life? Some people may not agree that suicide is the only way out of your struggles in life. Others agree that instead of ending your life, you should try and improve it and work to make it better instead of accepting defeat in an ongoing battle.

A lot of people struggle with how to make a positive difference in a suicidal person’s life. Whether it is encouraging them to seek professional help or being someone for them to talk to, a little can go a long way and will make a difference. “What is truly important is that you are there to help them and support them as much as you can. Support is very important,” said Abbruzzese. It is our obligation as peers, family members, and or friends, to understand that we have to support those who are dealing with this issue, and allow them to take the necessary steps to save themselves, by being there every step of the way. No one should have to go through this alone.

Suicide is a national problem, and every day we are losing lives due to individuals feeling like there is no other option than death. You are only given one life to live; do you truly want to end it without being able to take it back? Some of you may think that suicide might be the only option for you, but what you may not realize is that all you truly want is to start living.

[Disclaimer: The Bottom Line does not provide medical or other advice for its readers. If you or someone you know needs mental health or other medical assistance, please consult an expert. If you or someone you know has displayed the warn- ing signs of suicide or depression, please call the Suicide Prevention Line 1800- 273-TALK (8255).]

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