YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The shocking suicide of Robin Williams has thrust mental illness to the forefront of public attention. Depression and suicide are thought to be very private topics, but public mental health officials say it’s important to seek help.
Anyone suffering with depression can feel overwhelmed. A person may feel isolated and alone in a crowd as they watch the world pass by. That feeling of helplessness can lead to suicide attempts.
“It is just a combination and building up of issues over time, and I think the individual gets to the point where they almost see it like tunnel vision,” said Duane J. Piccirilli, executive director of the Mahoning County Health Board. “Things become narrow, and they don’t see that there are opportunities, that there are resources, that there are support systems.”
County mental health boards are the first line in that safety support system. Piccirilli said the first step would be to contact the Help Hotline Crisis Center. That agency serves Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
April Caraway, executive director of the Trumbull County Mental Health Board, said the top two mental health diagnoses are depression and bipolar disorder.
In Trumbull County last year, 4500 clients with Depression or Bipolar disorders were assisted by the Mental Health Board.
“Anybody can get help in the Valley by calling 211. 211 will connect people to resources close by for case management, medication if they need it, support groups. It doesn’t matter if they don’t have the money to pay for it,” Caraway said.
Mental health professionals say some people – men especially – might feel that there is a stigma attached to seeking treatment.
“It takes a very strong person to ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness,” Piccirilli said.
The mental health boards are supported by tax levies in each county.