Robin Williams’ death opens dialogue on depression

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – Robin Williams’ struggle with depression is a difficult, but important message for many — even here in Hampton Roads.

Although we regularly hear and speak of homicides, statistics show there are almost twice as many suicides. And the number one cause of suicide is untreated depression. The condition is so frequently masked by substance abuse, which Williams battled for years.

Special Coverage: Remembering Robin Williams

From blockbuster roles in some of the most popular movies and TV sitcoms to performing tear-jerking stand-up comedy at sold out venues, Williams was a star revered by millions. One such venue was Norfolk’s own Chrysler Hall.

“The show was very funny,” said Chris Smith with SevenVenues. “He did a whole show on his whole career from start to finish. He talked about his alcoholism, his drugs, his rehab, and how he slipped and fell and went back into it.”

Hampton Roads was one of the last stops on what has now become his last tour. One fan tweeted his ticket stub and said the performance was inspiring.

But, despite his unforgettable smile and the jokes that warmed our hearts, Robin Williams was open about the demons that tormented his soul. 10 On Your Side talked about that battle shared by so many with Psychotherapist Chris Gilchrist.

“I was shocked like everyone, but when I heard more information background-wise, then it’s not all that surprising to me,” Gilchrist said. “The pieces were there.”

Gilchrist formed a Survivors of Suicide Support Group and they host an Out of the Darkness Prevention walk each year. She also told about other resources available to victims of depression, like community service boards that have mental health support, military OneSource, civilian resources for dependents, catholic charities and more.

“Even Robin Williams on the outside, look how he could present as the entertainer,” Gilchrist said. “But in some ways, severe depression isolates you.”

If you or someone you love is in crisis, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. And if you want to raise awareness, the 2014 Out of Darkness Community Walk is happening in Virginia Beach on September 6.

For more information about the walk and resources for victims of depression, click here.

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