Global rates of suicide are up 60% since World War II. By 2030, depression will outpace cancer, stroke, war and accidents as the world's leading cause of disability and death. Although twice as many women suffer from depression and many more attempt suicide, nearly four times as many men die from suicide every year. Why?
Knowing how my own mother felt, one of the worst products of suffering from depression or addiction is dealing with the social stigma attached to it. Embarrassment, shame and humiliation are some of the shattering emotions our society has smeared on a very real problem. Who deemed it so, that a person suffering from depression should be less deserving of recognition and compassion?
Why is it such an 'out of the blue' experience for everyone that Robin Williams killed himself? Is it because we think if someone's funny they must spend their lives, head thrown back, wheezing away? I know very few comedians who in their real lives have their heads thrown back, it's not funny being funny; it's a killer.
His daughter had to leave social media after abuse from trolls, who may have even possibly sent her images of her father's autopsy (and then threatened to print it out to use as toilet paper). His wife has been subjected to whispers and speculation as to why she may not have spent the night in the same room as her husband...
The coverage of Robin Williams's death in UK national newspapers reveals not only that some editors treat their own industry Code of Practice with contempt - there is nothing new about that - but also that they seem unable to learn responsible practice no matter how often they are told and no matter what is at stake. No British editor can claim to be unaware that human lives are at risk here. Again and again in the past decade they have been told by leading charities and campaigns in this field, including the Samaritans and MIND, that suicides can prompt copycat events and that the suicide of a celebrity is especially likely to do this.
I was sad when I saw the news of the death of Robin Williams. He seemed like one of those actors that would be around forever. You couldn't really imagine him dying. We took his presence for granted as if it would always be there. As soon as I found out of his death I, like thousands of others across the world, shared my sadness on social media.