Suffolk: Ipswich Samaritans say depression is misunderstood and warn no-one is immune in wake of Robin Williams death

Over the years Robin Williams made no secret of his own demons, and Sue Leeming, branch director of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Samaritans, said there are huge misconceptions about depression. Over the years Robin Williams made no secret of his own demons, and Sue Leeming, branch director of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Samaritans, said there are huge misconceptions about depression.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
4:17 PM

Most fans will remember Robin Williams for his frenetic comedy roles which were often marked by pathos.

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He made people laugh with memorable performances in Mork & Mindy and Mrs Doubtfire, but behind the cheerful exterior he admitted there were problems he found difficult to shrug off.

The body of the Oscar-winning actor was found yesterday in his home in Marin County, where he had lived since the 1970s. He was pronounced dead minutes later. It is suspected that he committed suicide by asphyxiation, police said.

Over the years Williams made no secret of his own demons, and Sue Leeming, branch director of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Samaritans, said there are “huge misconceptions” about depression.

She said: “It means different things to different people. It is very personal. No-one is immune and every single person can get depressed for many reasons.

“People will say Robin Williams had all the fame etc, but who knows what was going on inside. Only he knew.

“Sometimes close friends and close family members may not even realise people are going through so much stress. It is a private space which normally people don’t talk about to each other.

“Some people find it so, so difficult to talk about depression. They have terrifying feelings.”

The Ipswich and East Suffolk Samaritans branch received nearly 30,000 calls last year, while it was 419,000 across East Anglia.

Depression is clinically defined as a disorder which impacts an individual’s mood, thoughts, physical health, and interpersonal functioning.

It is a disorder which varies in scope and severity, but which always impedes people’s abilities to function in one or more aspects of their lives.

Depression is also a very treatable illness, with 80-90% of people responding positively to treatment.

Mrs Leeming added: “Taking your own life is an extremely personal thing. If people are able to talk to us anonymously by phone, by email, by text or face-to-face, then they may be able to reflect on what is happening and choose their own path.

“We really hope people who are becoming so desperate that they are near to taking their own lives contact us in whichever way they, so we can talk to them. It is totally anonymous and totally confidential.”

Call the Samaritans in Ipswich on 01473 211133.

Our arts correspondent Andrew Clarke said Robin Williams was Hollywood’s court jester, and was greatly admired.

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