Robin Williams' Death Draws Attention Toward Mental Health

Published 08/12 2014 06:15PM

Updated 08/13 2014 09:05AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The suicide of Robin Williams comes as a surprise for many but for those battling with suicidal thoughts, it's a reality.

Williams' story is now bringing awareness to mental health. Experts, including those in Missouri, are hoping his death will motivate others to seek help.

"It destroyed me because I literally watched him drift away. It was like he became nothing," said Jennifer Amos, who says she's attempted suicide multiple times.

Amos says she knows the struggle all too well. She started having thoughts after her uncle committed suicide seven years ago. She says she never thought about it until then and it's changed her life.

"Everybody keeps asking me why. Why I would want to commit suicide, why I would want to become a cutter. The cutting, it took my depression away it took the pain from my depression away," added Williams.

Experts say suicide attempts should be taken seriously.  A recent study conducted by The Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri St. Louis reports suicide as the third leading cause of death among young adults in the state.

It also shows the risk of suicide is higher among youth and young adults. According to the study, more than 13 percent of all Missouri high school students reported they've considered suicide.

"Those children really don't feel as though they're having anyone to connect with and what happens when you're not having anyone to connect with, you're isolating yourself and when you're isolating yourself you're really not around people to recognize certain warning signs," said Deidre Richburg, clinical coordinator at the Family Guidance Center in St. Joseph.

Richburg says it's important those with suicidal thoughts seek help immediately. She adds the biggest misconception people have about suicide is that they can't help loved ones who may be thinking about ending their life, she says that's simply not true.

"Don't be afraid to address suicide. You can start saying things like hey buddy, I've noticed you've been acting a little different lately would you want to talk about it," added Richburg.

Amos says she's glad someone cared enough about her to talk about it and get her the help she needed.

"Honestly, I'm very grateful because if I didn't have my kids or my family I would probably already be gone," added Amos.

If you or anyone you know needs to talk to someone there are places that offer help. To contact The National Suicide Prevention Hotline, call 1-800-273-TALK.

St. Joseph's Family Guidance Center also has a crisis hotline, that number is 888-279-8188.

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