Robin Williams’ Death Highlights Rising Risk of Suicide

(NEW YORK) — The death of actor Robin Williams has highlighted the rising rate of suicide among middle-aged men, the most successful of whom are in no way immune to depression.

Williams had spoken candidly about his battle with depression and addiction over his four-decade career. He apparently committed suicide by hanging himself Monday, according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. He was 63.

Nearly 40,000 Americans commit suicide each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate among middle age Americans rose 28 percent between 1999 and 2010, landing suicide in the country’s top 10 leading causes of death.

The risk of suicide is highest among white people, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the overall suicide rate is about four times higher among men than among women.

About 90 percent of people who commit suicide are suffering from some kind of mental illness like depression, said Dana Alonzo, director of the suicide prevention research program at the Columbia School of Social Work. But not all of them know it.

“The vast majority don’t know they have depression — men in particular,” said Dr. Joseph Calabrese, who directs UH Case Medical Center’s mood disorders program. “And then when they are told that they have a depression, they are reluctant to accept it due to stigma.”

But depression and mental illness are no different than diabetes or heart disease, according to Calabrese, as there are clear cut symptoms and treatments. To be diagnosed with depression, a person has to feel deep sadness “most of the day, nearly every day,” he said. They are also unable to enjoy life and aren’t motivated to do things they normally enjoy.

Though depressed people may have suicidal thoughts, it usually takes drugs and alcohol to prompt those people to act on them, Calabrese said.

Calabrese said to watch out for three emotions in depressed individuals who may be having suicidal thoughts: helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness.

“If somebody is feeling hopeless about the future, they’re at very high risk,” Calabrese said.

Alonzo said not to be afraid to talk to someone who may be suicidal.

“I think one of the most common myths about suicide is…that the worst thing you can do is ask someone about suicide because it will give them the idea,” said Alonzo. “It’s one of the most helpful things you can do.”

Asking someone whether they’re thinking about suicide lets them know you care and won’t judge them, she said. Mayo Clinic suggests using a sensitive tone and asking questions about what’s going on in the person’s life and how they’re coping.

But it’s important to know that if your loved one does commit suicide, it’s not your fault, Alonzo added.

“I think that that’s actually an overlooked group,” she said of people who have lost loved ones to suicide. “They tend to experience more self-directed anger and shame for missing the signs that this was going to happen.”

There are plenty of resources available to people at risk for suicide and their loved ones, Alonzo said.

The Suicide Prevention Center Hotline is located at (877) 7-CRISIS or (877) or click here for its website.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 or click here for its website.

There’s even a relatively new texting line for people who would rather not talk on the phone called the Crisis Text Line. Text the word “listen” to 741741.

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Posted On 13 Aug 2014

Robin Williams’ Daughter Quits Social Media After Bullying

(NEW YORK) — Robin Williams’ daughter is taking a break from social media in the wake of her father’s death. Actress Zelda Williams, 25, says she’s stepping away after being subjected to what she calls “cruel and unnecessary” comments.

The longest message is on Williams’ Instagram account. Accompanied by a photo of a black and yellow Butterfly, Zelda writes, “I will be leaving this account for a bit while I heal and decide if I’ll be deleting it or not.”

Zelda goes on to explain, “In this difficult time, please try to be respectful of the accounts of myself, my family and my friends. Mining our accounts for photos of dad, or judging me on the number of them is cruel and unnecessary. There are a couple throughout, but the real private moments I shared with him were precious, quiet, and believe it or not, not full of photos or ‘selfies’. I shared him with a world where everyone was taking their photo with him, but I was lucky enough to spend time with him without cameras too. That was more than enough, and I’m grateful for what little time I had.”

She concludes, “My favorite photos of family are framed in my house, not posted on social media, and they’ll remain there. They would’ve wound up on the news or blogs then, and they certainly would now. That’s not what I want for our memories together. Thank you for your respect and understanding in this difficult time. Goodbye. Xo.”

On Twitter, where of course individual messages are limited to 140 characters, Zelda wrote, “I’m sorry. I should’ve risen above. Deleting this from my devices for a good long time, maybe forever. Time will tell. Goodbye.”

Zelda Williams is the daughter of Williams and his second wife, Marsha Garces. Robin Williams died Monday of apparent suicide at the age of 63.

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Posted On 13 Aug 2014

The Most Dramatic Images of East Coast Flooding

(NEW YORK) — Heavy rains fell across the East Coast overnight, leaving roadways flooded and drivers stranded before Wednesday’s morning commute.

Several highways and roads have been closed on Long Island, New York. On the Southern State Parkway, dozens of abandoned cars were strewn across the roadway.

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Posted On 13 Aug 2014

The largest amount of rain to ever fall…

(North Babylon, NY) — The largest amount of rain to ever fall in New York State in a 24-hour period caused flash flooding on Long Island. More than 13 inches fell over parts of the island in a matter of hours. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says the size of the storm came as a surprise. As a result, hundreds of motorists were caught on flooded roadways and had to be rescued from their stranded vehicles. Bellone says homeowners also now have to deal with flooded basements, reminiscent of Superstorm Sandy.

Posted On 13 Aug 2014

It’s a miserable morning commute in Long Island

It’s a miserable morning commute in Long Island. Seven inches of rain has fallen in Islip in Suffolk County and five inches of rain has soaked Farmingdale in Nassau County. Flash flooding has shut down major sections of the Southern State Parkway and several exit ramps on the Long Island Expressway are closed. Cars were abandoned on the Northern State Parkway near Oyster Bay after flooding out and several drivers had to be rescued by fire boats in several Suffolk County communities. Drivers are being urged to drive slowly and safely.

Posted On 13 Aug 2014