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Aug 12, 2014 9:26 PM by Lupita Murillo

Williams' suicide sheds light on depression

TUCSON- People are saddened by the news of Robin Williams' death. Marin County Sheriff's investigators confirm the actor/comedian committed suicide.

Since yesterday, talk about Williams alcohol and drug abuse, depression and bipolar disorder has been the topic of conversation.

It can be difficult to know the turmoil going on inside someone who has these issues, but there are warning signs and there is help.

Scott Whitley walks his dog daily. He rescued Abby three years ago. He told News 4 Tucson, "walking is good therapy and Abby gives me a reason to walk."

That wasn't the case at one time. Whitley, like so many others who suffer from depression, also tried to commit suicide. A friend saved his life.

"I have my illness but I live with it. I think of it as, I have a bad shoulder at times, but I don't think about my shoulder until it flares it up," Whitley said. "Then I treat it. I don't think about my mental illness every day except I do volunteer with DBSA and help others."

DBSA stands for Depression Bi polar Support Alliance. It helps to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders.

Since last night, he's been receiving emails from people he's been helping. One email read; "The fact that Robin Williams died, it just confirms the fact that I need to continue treating my illness that will never go away."

Whitley used the phrase, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

A problem that can be taken care of by going to the Crisis Response Center located on Ajo Way behind the University of Arizona Medical Center South Campus. That's where Dr. Ole Thienhaus office is located.

He heads the psychiatry department at UAMC. He said, "there is a fairly good record of intervening, and making a difference in the course of the illness really alleviating its course or eliminating these episodes all together."

It's been reported, Robin Williams may have been suffering from bipolar disorder.

Dr. Thienhous has been practicing medicine for three decades. He said the earlier bipolar disorder is detected and treated, the better. It usually starts in early adulthood or late adolescence.

"It often involves psychotropic medication," Dr. Thienhous said. "These are drugs that have been used for decades now that are quite successful in reversing an episode and preventing future episodes."

Here are some signs of depression:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Severe mood swings

If you are feeling depressed or know anyone who is, you can contact the Depression and Bipolar Support at (520) 477-9179 or visit their website www.dbatucson.org or the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Southern Arizona chapter at http://www.namisa.org or (520) 622-5582

For 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the Crisis Response Network can be reached at (520) 622-6000.

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