Robin Williams Making Me Think: Suicide Prevention


It’s hard to believe he’s gone. Mork, Garp, Mrs. Doubfire, John Keating “Carpe Diem”…and the list goes on.

Such creativity. Sui generis, rare. Now extinct.

And now we know, like so many creative talents, he suffered from mental health issues. He committed suicide.

People will have questions:

Why did he commit suicide? Why didn’t he get help? Why didn’t someone help him?

Chances are he felt hopeless. Chances are he did try to get help – multiple times reports say. Chances are someone did try to help him. If you want those kinds of answers check out this excellent Cracked article: Robin Williams  and Why Funny People Kill Themselves. But then look ahead. Look around you. Be aware. If it can happen to Robin Williams, it can happen to anyone.

I just finished a nursing course that contained information on suicide prevention. Hopelessness and evidence of a plan are two high risk behaviors to watch out for.

High Risk Factors (Seek help from emergency or mental health professional):

  • Threatening to harm or end one’s life
  • Seeking or access to means: seeking pills, weapons, or other means
  • Evidence or expression of a suicide plan
  • Expressing (writing or talking) ideation about suicide, wish to die or death
  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless, engaging impulsively in risky behaviour
  • Expressing feelings of being trapped with no way out
  • Increasing or excessive substance use
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, society
  • Dramatic changes in mood
  • Expresses no reason for living, no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, abnormal sleep (too much or too little)

    Other Risk Factors (recommend counseling and monitor for development of warning signs):

    •Divorced, separated, widowed
    •Unemployed or recent financial difficulties
    •Social Isolation
    •Prior traumatic life events or abuse
    •Previous suicide behaviour
    •Chronic mental illness
    •Chronic, debilitating physical illness
    For more information about mental health issues go to the Canadian Mental Health Association website.
    If you are in Canada and in a Crisis situation Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) to get help right away, any time of day or night. It’s a free call.