Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Impact of Robin William's Suicide

Last month, I was hit hard by some news. Robin Williams committed suicide in his home. Yes, you might feel that it is silly to be so emotional about the death of a celebrity whom I never met, but this man brought laughter to many people in the world, including myself. He made people smile and forget about their reality for a brief moment when watching his stand-ups acts or his movies. This incident helped me realize that even people with a great sense of humor can struggle with depression and spurred me to write this post for National Suicide Prevention Week. 

Depression is real and it is an ugly illness that plagues at least 1 out of 10 U.S. adults (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Also in 2011, one out of ten young people experienced a period of major depression (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Depression is not something that can just be set aside and forgotten. It is also not an illness that just disappears or that you wake up one day and you are suddenly “over it.” It can control and consume a person’s life, but thankfully it is treatable. 

The first step for treating depression is contacting your doctor. Yes, it is frightening with the stigma associated with mental illness. However, there are health care providers and counselors who want you to receive help and they are available to you. I have seen stigma’s impact on those suffering from mental health issues. I have seen stigma  in the privacy of homes where individuals are thought to be going through a phase. I have also seen the stigma of mental illnesses while walking crowded streets of cities where people are shunned because their mental health status has forced them into homelessness. It is difficult to see those who are suffering and in need medical attention, but are afraid to get help because of how they think others will view them. Please do not let the fear of stigma keep you away from receiving assistance.

Sadly, depression alone is not the only mental health issue. Did you know that in 2011, one in five adult Americans experienced a mental health issue (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.)? In 2o11, the United States had one in twenty Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). As you can see, no one is ever alone in this battle and the effects of mental illness impact more people than we might think. 

You might ask, “How do I make a difference? How can I make a change for those suffering from mental illness?” Those are the questions that motivated me to write this post. One of the ways that we can all make a difference is knowing what resources are available and sharing that information to someone in need.

Fortunately, the TWU Counseling Center offers a variety of counseling services and information. For more information about their services, click here. Also, if you know someone or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts because of depression, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number at 1-800-273-8255. It is free, confidential and there is a trained counselor that answers the line.

Additionally, my own Department of Health Studies offers some courses that can help promote mental health awareness. There is a course called Psychosocial Aspects of Mental Health where students learn how to promote mental illness awareness and incorporate principles and strategies to create health interventions for those suffering from mental illness. It also discusses the mental health system reform that is occurring now to decrease stigma, increase awareness of mental health and increase access to mental health care. 

Another course that increases mental health awareness is the Stress Management course. This course teaches students how to manage stress on a daily basis through a variety of techniques. If stress is not managed properly, it could lead to anxiety and depression-like symptoms.   

Yes, I know it sounds like a cliché, but it is true. You can make a difference.  You can decrease the stigma, you can influence policy changes to mental health reform, and you can make a difference in your life or someone else’s. 

This post reflects the personal opinions and thoughts of Amanda Hinson-Enslin and does not reflect an official position of Texas Woman’s University or the Department of Health Studies.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). CDC features. Retrieved from:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.) Mental health myths and facts. Retrieved from:

Resources complied by Amelia Garza.


TWU Counseling Center
(940) 898-3801

The TWU Counseling Center is an excellent TWU on-campus resource. Like their Facebook page and stay up-to-date on upcoming events, mental health, and self-care ideas. Their website also provides great online resources, such as online assessments, workshops, a self-help library, and virtual pamphlets, which can be accessed through the following link:

Denton County Health Department
(940) 349-2900

Denton County Health Department, located on 535 South Loop 288, is a facility geared towards improving the overall health of the Denton County community. Offering services such as dental, immunizations, and primary care, the Denton County Health Department is a great resource to work with.

Grant Halliburton Foundation
(214) 347-4900

The Grand Halliburton Foundation is an organization that believes in spreading the word that “I AM H.E.R.E”. This motto refers to a drive for working together to promote that no individual is alone. Geared towards teens and young adults, the foundation is the only coalition in the North Texas area that promotes mental health and well-being to the young people of the area.

Denton County MHMR Center
The Denton County MHMR center is a place where individuals can go to seek help if they are experiencing depression, thoughts of suicide, or other issues of mental health. The center is a non-profit organization that specializes in treating individuals with mental health needs. Their “person-centered” treatment plan is geared towards the individual’s specific needs.

Mayhill Hospital: Behavior Health
(940) 239-3000

The Mayhill Hospital treatment programs for behavior health include a variety of approaches such as recreational & occupational therapy, safe & secure environment, 24-hour nursing care, individual & group therapy, and many more. Providing a safe, confidential, and compassionate environment, the Mayhill Hospital: Behavior Health’s multi-disciplinary medical team works to understand the needs of the individual and develops programs based on those needs.

Texas Suicide Prevention

The Texas Suicide Prevention resource is an online tool that helps individuals navigate and understand issues surrounding suicide. Whether it is becoming aware of the signs of an at-risk individual, or working through life after the death of a loved one by suicide, this tool can help to build one’s knowledge and prevention tactics of suicide. Offering tips on ways to help with preventative measures, the Texas Suicide Prevention website offers a way for each person to get involved in suicide prevention and awareness.

Suicide Prevention Resources for Military Families

This online website is a great source for gathering information about how to help your loved one cope with suicidal thoughts following involvement in the military. Targeted specifically towards family and friends of military personal, the Suicide Prevention Resources for Military Families discusses how to identify the warning signs of suicide as well as how to find help for your loved one. This resource also gives a pneumonic for helping your loved one: ACE, which stands for Ask, Care, and Escort provide an easy way for families and friends to act on the needs of their loved ones.

Denton Regional Medical Center: PTSD
(940) 384- 3535

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can also play a role in suicide. The Denton Regional Medical Center provides great resources in understanding PTSD such as the risk factors, symptoms, and living with the disorder. Reviewed by Michael Woods, MD, the information is backed with expert help and advice.

Suicide Hotlines
Crisis Line: Adults, (972) 233-2233; Teen, (972) 233-TEEN; Española, (972) 233-2428
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK
24 Hour Crisis Line: (214) 828-1000/ 1-866-672-5100
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
This source is a Texas based hotline and is to be used in crisis situations. If you are someone you love is considering suicide, please contact this hotline.

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