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Letters: Saving Robin Williams

Robin Williams performs his stand-up show,

Robin Williams performs his stand-up show, "Weapons of Self Destruction," at Town Hall in Manhattan on Nov. 23, 2009. Credit: AP / Dave Allocca

While shining a light on the serious issues of substance abuse, mental illness and suicide helps to remove the stigma, the media have an obligation to report the news responsibly ["Parkinson's diagnosis; Sober Williams was in early stages, widow says," News, Aug. 15]. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

I heard a radio host say the people who were close to Robin Williams are saying they saw warning signs of suicide. The host asked, "Why didn't those people get him some help?"

It's public knowledge that Williams was seeking help for addiction and severe depression. However, help doesn't fix the problem overnight or make a person feel instantaneously good again. It requires hard work over a period of time. Sometimes a person in a depressed state starts to feel hopeless. At that point, they may decide that accepting further help won't do any good. They just want to end the pain.

Another problem with the question is it implies that the people close to Williams are somehow to blame. People who are bereaved by suicide feel a variety of emotions, with guilt being one among the strongest. The question leaves the bereaved wondering what they could have done differently. This only adds to the guilt.

The most important message from this tragedy is that help is available. A good way to begin is by reaching out to the Long Island Crisis Center's 24/7 hotline at 516/679-1111. It is free, anonymous and confidential.

Theresa Buhse, Bellmore

Editor's note: The writer is the associate executive director of the Long Island Crisis Center.

One wonderful memory of the genius of Robin Williams is from the movie "Nine Months," where he played a Russian obstetrician who simultaneously delivered the babies of actresses Julianne Moore and Joan Cusak, amid lunatic chaos. He routinely misprounced medical terms.

At the movie's end, the credits were given with baby photos of the lead actors, including a sweet photo of Williams. He marched to a drum whose beat touched the lives of so many.

Susan Scalone, Shoreham