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Screening for Mental Health Founder and Medical director, Dr. Douglas Jacobs, responds to media reports surrounding the death of Robin Williams.

Depression is a serious illness that can sometimes have fatal outcomes. While it is true that Robin Williams battled depression, he certainly did not surrender. Isolation and intolerable psychological pain that is beyond description lead to suicidal impulses. When someone has cancer and loses their battle, we do not say they did not fight hard enough. Depression needs to be viewed as the disease that it is and not treated as a weakness of character or that the person gave up or gave in to.

When reporting on suicide, the media plays a critical role in educating the public by providing useful information about common warning signs and risk factors and information on treatment and its effectiveness. When the media does not follow safe messaging guidelines or uses misinformation, it can inadvertently contribute to suicide contagion and stigma.

Depression is a mental health issue that needs to be reported, viewed, and treated with the same gravity and respect as physical health issues.