Recognizing warning signs of depression

Suicide takes a life every 13.3 minutes in US

INDIANAPOLIS - As the world continued to mourn the death of Robin Williams Tuesday, his representative released a statement after his apparent suicide that said the actor was recently battling severe depression.

Depression is one of the mental illnesses most commonly associated with suicide and it affects hundreds of Indiana families.

Somebody in the U.S. dies by suicide every 13.3 minutes. In Indiana, it is the 11th leading cause of death -- taking more than 800 lives in 2009.

Lisa Brattain said she knew something was wrong with her son Kurt years ago.

"Our primary reason for going to the doctor was just his chronic sleeping. Excessive fatigue and wanted to sleep 14 hours a day," Brattain said.

Kurt was diagnosed with depression. Four years later, during his first semester at Ivy Tech, the 19-year-old went missing.

He told his mother on the phone he was sorry and he was found an hour and a half later after committing suicide.

Brattain said the pain was still fresh -- even eight years later.

"Some days I'm not triggered by little things, and other days it just makes me cry," Brattain said.

The tragedy spurred her to act. She started the Indiana chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The nonprofit organization is one of several that aim to educate and prevent suicide.

"Thoughts of suicide and depression, mental illness, substance abuse doesn't discriminate against age, gender, race. It affects everyone," said St. Vincent Hospital clinical social worker Mandy Grella.

Anger, substance abuse, impulsive behavior and social withdrawal are all warning signs to look out for.

"Any drastic changes, whether it's your sleep pattern, your diet, your social engagement," Brattain said.

Grella said it is important to act if you notice any of these signs in a loved one.

"Ask some questions. If your loved one has mentioned they've had thoughts about hurting themselves, you might ask them are you having those thoughts now?" Grella said.

Indiana comedian Marti MacGibbon said she was saddened by Williams' death and that she actually got the chance to meet him. 

"When I was a stand-up comic, I met him through the course of work a couple of times and he was a lovely man with a great talent. It's a loss for all of us. Addiction is an extremely powerful disease," MacGibbon said. 

Tobyn Linton with Fairbanks Recovery Center said addiction and depression often go hand in hand. 

"Addiction known no discrimination. It can affect anyone out there. As much as we counselors like to think that we can read people, there are certain things we can look for and pick up on, but nobody knows what's going on in someone else's mind," Linton said. 

In Indiana, all new teaches are required to take suicide prevention and intervention training programs.

There are many resources available. If you are in a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

St. Vincent Stress Center takes walk-ins and appointments between 9 a.m. and midnight daily. Call the crisis line at 317-338-4800 or call Mental Health America of Greater Indianapolis at 317-251-7575 or text CSIS 839863 for support and referrals.

MORE: Warning signs and factors | National Alliance on Mental Illness

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