Robin Williams' apparent suicide heightens awareness and vigilan - WSMV Channel 4

Robin Williams' apparent suicide heightens awareness and vigilance

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The death of Robin Williams, apparently from suicide, reminds us of the prevalence of mental health problems.

Williams was 63. He had struggled with depression.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than three percent of us have major depression.

The Pima County Health Assessment calls depression one of the biggest health concerns in our state.

Health care professionals says when someone who is famous commits suicide it certainly can make us feel sad even though we didn't know him personally. 

They say it's a normal reaction.

However, they say people with depression or bipolar disorder might need to reach out for help now.

The Crisis Response Center in Tucson is a resource for both patients and their loved ones, even if they don't have health insurance.

It's a 24-hour crisis hotline and a 24-hour walk-in center.

The center's medical director says patients and their loved ones and caregivers should be extra vigilant right now.

"Feeling sad and distressed is a normal reaction. When that turns into thoughts about harming oneself or if that makes one's own depression worse, that's the time to reach out further, and increase one's own support through their family, friends or whatever network or come in for mental health treatment here at the Crisis Response Center or wherever that person gets mental health care," says Crisis Response Center Medical Director Dr. Richard Rhoads.

Dr. Rhoads says caregivers should know they can call the hotline too.

"Caregivers themselves need support. It's difficult to have anyone that you love or care about in a crisis or with any sort of mental health problem. There is its own burden and stress to being a caregiver," says Dr. Rhoads. "So the caregiver themselves could receive additional support for their own role, but they could also learn about additional help that could be given to the one with mental health problems. So calling the crisis line could be informative. There could be information given then or, in the case of an emergency, arrangement for getting that individual immediately into the hospital."

Dr. Rhoads says sometimes, in an emergency, caregivers need more immediate help.

"Certainly, if there's any risk to the loved one's safety, then yes, the caregiver should call the crisis line or even the police--911. In an emergency situation the police can come to your home and potentially take that person into the Crisis Response Center, even if they don't want to go, because a person's safety is more important at that time," Dr. Rhoads says.

Arizona has a new law that allows police to take a person to a psychiatric center, such as the Crisis Response Center, even if the police did not witness the incident that prompted the 911 call.

Dr. Rhoads says that gives caregivers and loved ones more options.

The Crisis Response Center is at 2802 East District Street.

That's behind the University of Arizona Medical Center--South Campus, formerly known as Kino Hospital.

The hotline number is 622-6000.

The Crisis Response Center is a collaborative effort between Pima County, University of Arizona and the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA).  

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