RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Robin Williams made us laugh while harboring so much pain. It’s proof that with depression, what you see is not always what you get. Knowing the warning signs and really paying attention to your loved ones could save their lives.
“We put on our good faces when we’re out in society because we don’t want to bring everyone else down,” says Kathy Harkey of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She, herself, suffered the greatest loss of her life more than eight years ago.
“He died, took his life January 8, 2006,” Harkey speaks of her oldest son Joshua. At age 24, he lost his battle with a mental illness, and it turned her family’s world upside down. “We had no clue that suicide was something that we needed to watch for. How could this happen, and what should we have been looking for?”
It’s only after Joshua’s sudden death and hours of research that Harkey realized he had shown warning signs, even though he tried to hide them like many people do. Harkey now educates others on what to look for in a loved one: any change in personality, mood, sleep, priorities, even the use of alcohol or drugs. Just last month, Robin Williams was in rehab.
“When I saw that about Robin Williams last night, I just sat there and cried for him, for his family, for the world,” Harkey says, adding that this conversation needs to continue because too many families are torn apart by suicide every day.
As many as 90% of people who take their lives have a treatable mental illness. “It’s a true loss of anyone who dies like this,” Harkey says, encouraging friends, family members and people going dealing with a mental illness themselves to take advantage of resources available in the community through NAMI.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond