LIVINGSTON COUNTY– In the wake of Robin Williams’ tragic death on Monday, people are talking more and more about the Hollywood legend’s life and circumstances, and how they may have contributed to his final act. Media outlets decry his chronic depression and predisposition to substance abuse, combined in the twilight of his extraordinarily successful career, as chief factors in the manner of his untimely passing.
But suicide is by no means a killer reserved for Hollywood high rollers in big cities. As suicide and suicide prevention makes a rare appearance in the media spotlight this week, the conclusion at all levels of the conversation is that suicide prevention is more necessary than ever.
“As a society and a community, the topic of suicide has been taboo, even in the media we stay away from covering them unless the person is famous,” Said Josh Williams, publisher of the Genesee Sun, who’s older brother died of suicide. “If there is a glimmer of light as a result of Robin Williams’ death, it is that the issue has a rare chance to appear at the family kitchen table for discussion.”
According to 2011 census data, all counties in Western New York (in fact, all NYS counties, excepting Rockland and Nassau) have higher suicide mortality rates than any of the five boroughs of New York City. As of 2011, Wyoming County had by far the highest death rate due to suicide of any county in New York State.
“A key to meeting the goal of a suicide rate of zero is to raise awareness, encourage people to ask the difficult questions of their friends, neighbors and family,” said Michele Anuszkiewicz of the Livingston County Health Department. “We need to debunk the myth that asking questions about suicide somehow gives others the idea, and most of all to let people know that they’re not alone and that there truly is help available.”
Census data tells us that there were almost 400,000 suicides in the united States in 2011. That means that 12.4 per 100,000 Americans died from suicide that year. India’s national data estimates their national suicide rate at about 16 per 100,000 people per year, and the U.K. Office of National Statistics says that the British suicide rate was 11.8 per 100,000 per year.
“Suicide is brutal and is never the last resort,” added Josh Williams. “If you know you are deeply depressed, or having suicidal thoughts, reach out for help. It will always come. You are loved.”
<PHOTO CAPTION: Photo by Phil Penman. Visit his website here.>
Anyone who has suicidal thoughts can contact their nearest suicide prevention hotline at the following numbers:
Allegany County Community Services Crisis Hotline – (585) 593-5706.
Cattaraugus County Crisis Hotline – (800) 339-5209.
Cayuga County – Syracuse – (315) 251-0600 or (877) 400-8740.
Chautauqua County – Crisis Services Counseling Hotline – (800) 724-0461 or toll-free number for children and adolescents only- (877) KIDS400 (877-543-7400).
Chemung County Crisis Service – (607) 737-5369.
Chenango County – Bassett Hospital Crisis Center Service – (607) 431-5412 or (877) 369-6699 or Chenango County Community Mental Hygiene Services, (607) 337-1600.
Erie County – Crisis Services Counseling Hotline (716) 834-3131 or toll-free number for children and adolescents only: (877) KIDS400 (877-543-7400).
Genesee County – Regional Action Phone, Inc. – (585) 343-1212 or (800) 359-5727.
Livingston County – Lifeline – (585) 275-5151 or (800) 310-1160.
Madison County Mental Health Department (315) 366-2215 (800) 721-2215.
Monroe County – Lifeline – (585) 275-5151 or (800) 310-1160.
Niagara County Crisis Hotline – (716) 285-3515.
Oneida County – Mobile Crisis Assessment Team – (315) 732-6228.
Onondaga County – Syracuse – (315) 251-2979.
Ontario County – Lifeline – (585) 275-5151 / (800) 310-1160.
Oswego Hospital Behavioral Services Division 24-Hour Hotline – (315) 343-8162.
Saratoga County – Samaritans Suicide Prevention Center – (518) 689-4673.
Seneca County – Lifeline – (585) 275-5151 / (800) 310-1160.
Steuben County Community Mental Health – (607) 776-6577, after hours: (607) 937-7800.
Wayne County – Lifeline – (585) 275-5151 or (800) 310-1160.
Wyoming County Crisis Line – (800) 724-8583 or Wyoming County Mental Health Clinic – (585) 786-0190.