After the shock of Robin Williams' suicide, a lot of people are asking: could this happen to someone I know?
8% of Americans battle depression, according to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Afton Kapuscinski, who also says that sufferers react differently to their 'realities.'
"So, while we might look at someone like Robin Williams and say he's talented and loved and so creative and all these good things, it could be that he didn't see himself that way."
"It's possible that a person who suffers from depression, maybe in particular depression and addiction, may see their futures essentially hopeless," says Kapuscinski. "That there's nothing I can do to ever get away from this problem."
That's not to say there are no solutions: Dr. Kapuscinski directs Syracuse University's Psychological Services Center, which provides experience to clinical and school psychologists in training (with professional supervision) and therefore accepts clients at a discounted rate.
The suggestion: if there are concerns about depression---symptoms may include extreme changes in mood, energy, sleep and eating habits, and withdrawing, including not liking pastimes, hobbies or events that the person had been passionate about---then reach out and talk (ask if something's wrong to start the dialogue), and get help: a family physician can help with the referral.
We also spoke with Debra Graham, who's a volunteer with the CNY chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She got involved after her 17 year old son committeed suicide, just before high school graduation, and now works with the relatives of other suicides to help them cope.
Graham also says we have to be more realistic about dealing with depression and other mental illnesses:
"We cannot continue to think that we're immune to this, that someone we love could not be diagnosed, or sufer with depression or other mental illness. That would be like saying that no one that we love will ever be diagnosed with cancer or heart disease."
The suicide prevention group has been running 'Out of the Darkness' walks since 2006, to raise funds for suicide awareness and to support the families of victims. This year, Graham hopes more members of the general public will join the cause.
Here's the schedule:
Sept. 6: Mohawk (Herkimer /Mohawk Valley walk)
Sept 20: Ithaca (Taughannock Park)
Sept 27: Watertown (Thompson Park Zoo)
Oct. 4: Chittenango (Jim Marshall's Farm)
Oct. 11: Syracuse/Liverpool: Long Branch Park