Through the untimely death of entertainer Robin Williams, a bright light is shining once again on the often-avoided conversation about suicide.
In my work over the years as a mental health professional, helping people through crisis of spirit, marriage and family, I have seen firsthand how people feel hopeless in their struggle. I have also seen the tragic consequences of someone committing suicide and the family members left behind.
Today, as the Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, my mission is to help people out of that dark lonely place and to know there is hope.
While we all face challenges in life, some of us tragically succumb to fears that manifest into a nightmare, bound and determined to erase our will to live.
If you or someone you know and love is at a breaking point, especially one so low they speak of wanting to end their life, take immediate action to get them help. Ask for help and you will get it.
Call the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at 855-CRISIS-1 or 855-274-7471. Someone is there at all hours to listen and help.
There are people across the state who will mobilize to assist you.
Other resources include the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network at 615-297-1077 and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273 TALK.
The tragic loss of Williams has touched many. The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services’ skilled professionals and agency partners across the state are ready to help you and your loved ones overcome this or other challenges with mental health issues.
Make that call for yourself or someone you love.
E. Douglas Varney is commissioner of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.