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A year ago today, Robin Williams committed suicide. I applaud the efforts to remember him and his life, as he was a funny comedian, a great actor, loved by his friends, and adored by his family. He was not afraid of politically charged issues and often worked tirelessly to bring light and conversation to many controversial issues, particularly depression and substance abuse.

With his suicide, he has posthumously brought a greater awareness to suicide itself. He gave IT a face and a human side. Suicide, or the risk of suicide, is often over looked. In men especially, its warning signs, if present raise the risk of a successful attempt significantly.

RISK factors include but are not limited too:
Male, over age 18, substance abuse involved, prior attempts, giving things of significance away, plan, medication changes, access to a gun, significant occupational or social changes,  hallucinations or delusions, and grief

Some of these signs are subtle. Males, and particularly Black males (can discuss that more later), are at high risk if exhibiting these warning signs. A person who is suicidal can not simply be “talked out of suicide” but needs to be in a safe place as they process their thoughts and often times receive medication to help balance their mood.

If a loved one is suffering from suicidal ideation contact a professional for help. Refer to the national suicide hotlines for immediate guidance (see below) if you do not have anyone to talk to or call your local hospital. Many landlines can help you find treatment in your county by dialing 211.  Remember suicide is not 100% preventable as it involves human will.  Do what you can and seek your own treatment if needed.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1 (800) 273-8255
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish
Website: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org