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What Robin Williams' death can teach us about treating depression

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Posted: August 21, 2014 9:39 a.m.
Updated: August 21, 2014 9:36 a.m.
What Robin Williams' death can teach us about treating depression


      Millions have taken to the Internet to remember actor-comedian Robin Williams, who died at age 63 in a suspected suicide.
        Williams was best known for his stand-up and comedic roles that defined his career, and, while he admitted to a lifelong struggle with depression and addiction, many were shocked by his sudden death.
        "I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul," fellow comedian Steve Martin tweeted.
        But the media hasn't just played a role in helping people grieve the "Aladdin" legend; it's also used Williams' death as a chance to talk about suicide prevention and depression.
        The coverage can hopefully add something constructive to the tidal wave of media attention, which The Huffington Post reported can sometimes lead to more suicides, especially among young people. One study published earlier this year found that high-intensity news coverage of individual suicides contributed to teen suicides in the 1980s and 1990s.
        Reddit voluntarily edited Williams' Reddit "Ask Me Anything" from this year to include suicide prevention hotlines.
        "Reddit is often criticised as a hotbed of bullying and abuse but, for this small but incredibly sensitive gesture, they deserve applause for today at least. Kudos, Reddit," Pando writer Paul Carr wrote.
        Forbes also ran a piece offering solutions to help prevent suicide and painting Williams' suicide as a reminder that depression knows no age.
        "Our picture of suicide often tends to be young, like Kurt Cobain or Sylvia Plath. That probably comes from our tendency to romanticize depression, a deadly disease that is not romantic," Forbes' Matthew Herper wrote. "William(s)'s life brought millions of people laughter and catharsis. His death robs us of that, and robs his family of him. If any good can come of this, it might be to remind us that people of any age can be suicidal."
        Are you or someone you know depressed or having suicidal thoughts? Check the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's warning signs.
        Email: chjohnson@deseretnews.com; Twitter: ChandraMJohnson

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