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Robin Williams: The strong message left following his tragic death

Earlier today, Aug. 14, FOXNews.com reported a new statement from Robin Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, in which she reveals that Robin was struggling with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease at the time of his death, and he refrained from going public about his condition.

Film and television star Robin Williams will always be remembered for his iconic comedic gifts.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Schneider also conveyed that “Robin’s sobriety was intact” after hearing speculations about whether he may have returned to using substances prior to his death.

Disturbing details about the renowned artist’s death were conveyed to the press in a statement from Marin County Assistant Deputy Chief Coroner Keith Boyd, which was reported on TheWire.com on Aug. 12. Boyd revealed Williams was found “in a seated position” with a belt around his neck and he also had cuts on his left wrist, with a closed pocket knife nearby.

The world is still reeling and media and social network sites are still streaming news and messages regarding Robin Williams’ tragic Aug. 11 suicide. Ripples of shock and grief continue to roll across Hollywood and around the world, with condolence messages pouring out to Robin’s family and friends, tributes being offered and memories shared from many of his acting peers including his “The Crazy Ones” co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar and his “Good Will Hunting" co-stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Schneider also offered a heartfelt wish in her recent statement saying, “It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”

Herein lies the powerful message found after Robin Williams’ shocking and heartbreaking death: Depression can and does kill. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that people who are suffering from depression receive care, treatment and support.

SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) is a leading national non-profit organization whose mission is to educate people and prevent suicide. Per SAVE’s website, suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year and there are twice as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, the strongest risk factor for suicide is depression, 15 percent of those who are clinically depressed die by suicide, but 80 percent of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.

SAVE also stresses that “depression is a medical illness in the brain that can be clinically diagnosed and treated.”

This fact offers hope. Lives can potentially be saved by seeking treatment and getting professional help for depression. Mental health professionals, medical doctors, psychologists, social workers and clergy are examples of people who can offer help and treatment. Also, reaching out to friends and family members to find encouragement, support and love in an emotionally dark time can help foster healing.

Conversely, people need to offer support, whenever possible, to others who are hurting or in deep despair and steer them toward professional help and guidance. Many times it’s impossible for those who are suffering from depression to understand their own self-worth or imagine a future in which they are happy and without pain. Unfortunately, feelings and thoughts like these can lead to desperate measures.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports an average of 105 suicides per day in the United States in 2010. This is an alarming number.

If anything can be learned in the wake of Robin Williams’ passing, it’s that depression can cripple, destroy and end lives. This is why education about the signs, symptoms and treatment options for depression is so critically important. Visit SAVE’s website for a depression checklist and more information about the disease.

Robin Williams was a comedic genius whose creative gifts could not be matched. He generated millions of smiles and an immeasurable abundance of laughter over the course of his Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winning career.

Sadly, his illness overtook him and the world lost a brilliant man far too soon. His uncanny and unparalleled ability to riff jokes will always be remembered by fans and colleagues and the riveting roles he inhabited will remain his incredible legacy for generations to come.

If you are in a suicide crisis call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.