Robin Williams' death sparks calls for help

SYMPATHETIC EAR: Lifeline South Coast marketing manager Clare Leslie has seen an increase in calls for assistance following the death of Robin Williams.
Photo: ADAM WRIGHT

SYMPATHETIC EAR: Lifeline South Coast marketing manager Clare Leslie has seen an increase in calls for assistance following the death of Robin Williams. Photo: ADAM WRIGHT

Since the news of comedian Robin Williams’ death, Lifeline, both locally and nationally, has reported a 25 per cent increase in the number of calls it’s receiving.

Lifeline South Coast executive director Grahame Gould said the organisation saw it as positive.

“We don’t interpret that as a necessarily bad thing,” he said.

“What it means is people are open to seeking help. 

“The news of Robin Williams has meant people have been able to think, ‘Who can I turn to if I’m considering suicide?’.

“So we see the increase in calls as an issue of people seeking help, which is a good thing.”

Mr Gould said much of the reporting surrounding Williams’ death had been helpful and constructive, offering an “opportunity to reflect and seek help if we need it”.

He said the increase in calls was understandable given Williams’ popularity.

“People connected with him in a special way, because his humour crossed so many different topics,” Mr Gould said.

“Me personally I connected with Mrs Doubtfire. I love that movie and his role. Other people connected with movies like Dead Poets Society, which was so different.

“He’s done so many roles and his humour when he was doing comedy, he just talked about whatever was happening, so it was a chance to connect to so many different people. It’s no surprise his death would make people think a lot.”

The service has enlisted extra crisis support to deal with the influx of calls and has put out the call for more telephone crisis supporters.

There is a course currently running and the next will be held in the new year.

Anyone interested in training can register their interest on the website lifelinesouthcoast.org.au

Mr Gould also offered advice for people who had friends or family they thought might be considering suicide.

“The best thing to do is ask outright, in a straightforward, simple way.

You can say, ‘I’ve noticed you have been withdrawn, are you considering suicide?’

“If they say yes, ask them if they have a plan. If they do, it’s important to stay with them until they can get help. For that person it may be going to the GP or emergency.”

If you are thinking about harming yourself or ending your life please contact Lifeline: phone 13 11 14 at any time or visit www.lifeline.org.au.

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