Think Progress has posted this final insight into the likely cause behind Robin Williams decision to end his life. I can’t be sure of course, but after reading this piece I think I’ve finally stopped crying.
Couple of things about depression and suicide I never knew before have come to light in these past few days. First, while I knew suicide attempts ballooned in numbers during the month of December I was not aware that it also spiked just after the suicide of a celebrity – or someone given celebrity status in the news. The idea that news coverage actually encourages more suicide attempts is actually so prevalent in our society that the Center for Disease Control issued a guideline for how to better treat the subject in the media. You can read the full guideline here but in a nutshell it says:
*Suicide is never the result of a single factor – presenting too simplistic an explanation is misleading and gives a wrong impression. (I am reminded of a comment on nuclear plant accidents – an explosion at a nuclear facility would never be the result of one thing going wrong but of twelve things going wrong all at once.)
*Repetitive and ongoing coverage, or prominent coverage, of a suicide tends to promote and maintain a preoccupation with suicide among at-risk persons, especially among persons 15-24 years of age.
*By its nature, news coverage of a suicidal event tends to heighten the general public’s preoccupation with suicide… News media professionals should attempt to decrease the prominence of the news report and avoid the use of dramatic photographs related to the suicide.
*… reporting that a person died from carbon monoxide poisoning may not be harmful; however, providing details of the mechanism and procedures used to complete the suicide may facilitate imitation of the suicidal behavior by other at-risk persons.
And finally they urge the media not to glorify the act of suicide or to give the impression that suicide is a way to cope with problems.
Then – Upworthy sent me this youtube link. I’ve watched it through four full times now and I think I’m starting to get it. I urge you to watch it at least once.
These are his links:
Suicide hotline number: 1-800-273-TALK
Email: Legal first name (cuz of confusion) is Sky Williams: Gregidot@gmail.com