Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center Warns of Suicide Contagion Following Robin Williams’ Death

Media coverage of celebrity suicide can sometimes lead to an increase in suicidal acts.

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Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center

Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center

People who are out there contemplating suicide may think that suicide equals freedom. This isn't the case, and we should be careful not to perpetuate that myth. Suicide is not the only way out.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (PRWEB) August 28, 2014

A leading Florida mental health program is raising awareness about the possibility of suicide contagion as a result of media coverage surrounding Robin Williams’ death. When celebrity suicides make headlines, there is an increased risk of ‘copycat suicides’ among the general public. The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center stresses that the focus should not be on what happened—the suicide itself—but on what we can do to address the issues that lead to suicide.

“Suicide is a tragedy on so many counts,” said Ben Brafman, founder and CEO of the Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center. “Most of all because the issues that trigger suicide, like depression, can be treated successfully through a mental health program. We must make it clear that help is available, and it works.”

After news of Williams’ death spread through media outlets, outpourings of support and grief came from social media channels. Perhaps the most striking was a tweet containing a quote from one of Williams’ characters, the Genie from Aladdin: “Genie, you’re free.” The tweet was re-tweeted over 300,000 times, which raised some alarm bells among those in the mental health community.

“That particular message of ‘you’re free,’ while moving, is a dangerous one to send,” said Brafman. “People who are out there contemplating suicide may read that as a cause-and-effect: suicide equals freedom. This isn’t the case, and we should be careful not to inadvertently perpetuate that myth. Suicide is not the only way out.”

While it may be near impossible to keep stories of celebrity suicides out of the news, there are things we can do to help lessen the likelihood of suicide contagion. A personalized mental health program can make a big difference in the lives of people struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.

“What we need to do is talk about the possibilities of treatment, not the aftermath of suicide,” said Brafman. “One positive result I’ve seen so far is the number of media outlets that report on Williams’ suicide are then displaying mental health hotlines for those with mental health problems. This is the direction we need to be heading in, one where we talk about mental health and offer help to those who need it before it’s too late.”

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The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center is a full service mental health facility located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. dedicated to helping individuals who suffer from mental illness find a path to living better. The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center offers a mental health program and support for a wide variety of mood and thought disorders including: depression, anxiety disorders, anger management, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. For more information on mental health treatment, please contact The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center at 1-888-205-2775 or online at http://www.mentalhealthcenter.org.


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