The news of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide highlights just how common this tragedy is. According to Brandon Gibb, professor of psychology and director of clinical training at Binghamton University (SUNY), it is estimated that someone in the United States dies by suicide every 13.3 minutes. Gibb’s research focuses on risk factors for depression and suicide in children, adolescents and adults. He is also a suicide survivor, having lost his father to suicide.
“Depression affects up to one out every five people in the U.S., and thoughts of suicide are a core symptom of the disease. Therefore, it was not surprising that Robin Williams was reported to have been suffering from depression,” said Gibb. “The important thing to remember is that there are various forms of psychotherapy, medication and other interventions that have proven effective in treating depression. Depression is a treatable illness.”
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death across all age groups and the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year-olds. It is the third leading cause of death among 10-14 year-olds and the fourth leading cause of death among 35-44 year-olds. Over twice as many Americans die by suicide as from homicide each year. Ninety percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric illness, and the most common by far is depression.