Robin Williams' suicide has health experts stressing help is available for those who need help

TAMPA - The death of actor and comedian Robin Williams stunned the world.  How could a man that made so many poeple laugh be so sad and conflicted?

The two worlds don't seem to align. Sadly health experts explain they often do.

Health experts point out if someone suffers from cancer or another medical illness, they would  go a doctor. But many struggling with depression don't get help, although help is out there.

Always laughing, we now know for Robin Williams, a seemingly happy personality, covered his battle with addiction and depression.

Like so many, Tom Mueller, Suicide Prevention Manger at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay was deeply saddened by the loss.

"This was the case of a person who had a life long struggle with a disorder," said Mueller.

He added that Williams' suicide stunned so many, because his image doesn't seem to coincide with a man who felt helpless. But, depression affects millions.

"It deprives us of energy to cope with life,"  said Mueller.

Mueller said in Hillsborough County alone, 150 to 200 people kill themselves each year. Nationwide it was more than 38,000 from the last count taken and 90 percent of suicide victims nationwide suffer from a mental disorder.

"If our attitude or emotions are not the way we would like them to be we don't realize that the brain could be malfunctioning and their could be help for that," said Mueller.

The key: let someone know how you are feeling

"There is a often a combination of medication and some kind of counseling which means connecting and talking to others,"  said Mueller.

It's the guidance given at The Crisis Call Center. Experts answer about 200 calls a month from people contemplating suicide. Mueller said the first few hours or even first couple of days are crucial, that's why their policy is to always call back.

While triggers of depression vary, symptoms often don't. The most common: changes in behavior and frequent negative statements. Physical signs include too much or too little eating and sleeping, and unexplained aches and pains. The best thing you can do for your loved ones is to be aware  and remember,"  

"There definitely is hope,"  said Mueller.

If you need help you can call the crisis center seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You just need to dial 2-1-1

You can also visit the website at www.crisiscenter.com.  Mueller said another good resource is American Association of Suicidology. The website is www.suicidology.org

If you are worried about paying for services. there are plenty of free services available that experts can help you find.

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