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Editorial: Depression is tough battle for anyone

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Fans around the world were shocked this week by the death of Robin Williams, an entertainment superstar. The comic legend’s death by suicide shows how depression can affect anyone — from the everyday joe to celebrities.

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The most important thing to remember is that depression is not a weakness of the individual. It is not their fault.

Depression is a disease. It is a debilitating and masterful opponent.

The challenge of depression is that it is a physical disease, just like heart disease or diabetes. The primary difference is the lack of knowledge and understanding of the disease as well as the unknowns of the human mind.

Despite his wealth, resources, and support, the demons of this disease overwhelmed Williams. Just think of the same challenges facing a homeless person or single parent or a teenager suffering from this disease.

Williams’ depression was complicated by his addiction to alcohol and cocaine. Suicide often occurs through a combination of personal issues, including mental illness, addiction, marital struggles, major losses, financial trouble, job losses and others.

Its list of victims is long. Nearly 10 million Americans deal with this devastating disease in one of its many forms of depression or bipolar disorder.

When a friend or family member commits suicide, one always asks why. There is no answer to that “why” question. We never know what the person was thinking when they took their own life.

Williams was an entertainment friend to many. We knew him from the Mork of the 1970s to his memorable movie roles to his latest television roles. His death leaves many with a sense of inexplicable loss.

He will not be the last victim of depression, but Williams may through his notoriety become the face of depression. The tragedy of his death may become a focal point benefiting the support and resources in the long battle against depression.

So take the first step and just talk about depression with your family and friends.

— West Central Tribune, Willmar

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