Dr Moffic is an editorial board member and regular contributor to Psychiatric Times. Before he retired from clinical work for the underserved population, he was a tenured Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
As I distressingly read about the recent celebrity suicides, as well as the research that suicide rates have been climbing once again over the past couple of decades, I had a sense of déjà vu. We had been here before. I was reminded of Robin Williams, about which a blog for Psychiatric Times drew an unprecedented amount of attention and discussion.1 His, too, was seemingly a surprise, even though he publicly disclosed a history of mental illness and substance abuse.
The usual reminders were trotted:
• The warning signs of suicide
• Patients (and friends) seem to improve or worsen suddenly without sound reason
• Probably half of potentially suicidal patients need good treatment or don’t seek help at all
• Stigma surrounds patients with psychiatric disorders and ultimately, this adversely affects acceptance of mental illness
• Medications (eg, low-dose lithium) are useful and potentially life-saving
• We still need more resources and research
• Guns are dangerous (although these celebrities died by hanging)
1. Moffic HS. A psychiatric eulogy for Robin Williams. Psychiatric Times. August 13, 2014. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/couch-crisis/psychiatric-eulogy-robin-wi.... Accessed June 18, 2018.
2. Gold KJ, Sen A, Schwenk TL. Details on suicide among US physicians: data from the National Violent Death Reporting System. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2013;35:45-49.
3. Kreimer S. Preventing physician suicide: recognizing symptoms, improving support. American Association for Physician Leadership. June 15, 2018. https://www.physicianleaders.org/news/-preventing-physician-suicide-recognizing-symptoms-improving-support. Accessed June 18, 2018.