Robin Williams left “unprecedented” mark on suicide hotlines

August 21, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


A year after actor Robin Williams’ suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is still receiving several hundred more calls every day than before he died. “It really was and continues to be a milestone event in the history of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” said John Draper, the organization’s director. “It wasn’t a big explosion, then a blip.” Suicide prevention organizations and local crisis lines also report a sustained increase in public interest over the past year. It is not yet known whether Williams’ death was associated with a change in suicide rates, or whether referrals to mental health providers have gone up along with calls to crisis lines. But some experts note that awareness of mental health issues is increasing, and that more media outlets now cover suicide without sensationalizing it – two developments that are likely to facilitate connecting people with help. “In past times, people were afraid to talk about this,” said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “People were afraid to admit that they made a suicide attempt, or hid the fact that they lost a loved one to suicide. But I think all that is changing. The Robin Williams story is a part of that change.”

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