The Robin Williams effect

Colorado launched its first-ever statewide mental health hotline Tuesday, the day after Robin Williams made headlines by taking his own life.

A mere coincidence, of course, as the hotline has been in the works for some time. It was part of the state’s response to the Aurora theater massacre.

Williams’ suicide has undoubtedly raised the profile of mental health in America. His wife’s disclosure that he was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may help put his mental-health challenges in perspective. But his celebrity status brought an uncomfortable topic into the open.

If Williams — with every resource at his disposal to battle depression, addictive tendencies and anxiety — couldn’t escape a feeling of hopelessness, what does that say about the challenge for similarly afflicted people of fewer means?

Hopefully, the hotline will help. Callers to the Colorado Crisis and Support Line can talk to mental health professionals 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 844-493-TALK (8255).

“We do not want to lose one more person to the tragedy of suicide, gun violence, substance abuse or mental illness,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said.



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