He was a diagnosed bi-polar, also know as manic-depression. We loved his manic phases on which his extraordinary comedic capacities were built...he channeled them exceedingly well.
It was the deep depressions that were his final undoing, coupled with rampant drug & cocaine use (typical for manic-depressives), capped by those close to him ignoring numerous & clear signs of his significantly worsening behavioral changes.
So, how is this a warning for all Boomers?
According to Psychology Today, the age-adjusted spike in death by suicide, which grew in the US by 30% over the past decade, has been particularly concentrated among middle-aged Americans - age-adjusted death rate from suicide grew by more than 11% between 2006 and 2011, even as the overall death rate from all causes fell by 16%;
I'm telling you all this not to ensure a lousy rest of the day after reading this, but because, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a combination of awareness, support, and advocacy can help save lives.
This week, Forbes provided a short list of the tactics that experts advocate... they are:
- Know how to recognize suicidal symptoms: A person who is acting self-destructive or talking about hurting him or herself may be issuing a “cry for help,” experts say. The American Association for Suicidology has warning signs posted on their website: IS-PATH-WARM.
- Do your part to destigmatize mental-health treatment: Friends, family, or colleagues who seek counseling or medication to deal with mental illness should be supported, experts say—not made to feel embarrassed, as can often be the case. “Unless stigma is confronted and challenged, it will continue to be a major barrier to the treatment of mental illnesses and to the prevention of suicide,” stressed experts from the International Association of Suicide Prevention.
- Share resources: Between Internet and telephone hotlines, there’s always a trained professional available to talk through a crisis. For example, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and offers a trained, local counselor available around-the-clock. And the Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide counseling for LGBT youth. Their phone number is 1-866-488-7386.
- Ensure access to care: Personal politics aside, many mental-health advocates have supported the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion because they say it would get treatment to those who need it most. “The facts are clear – six out of ten Americans living with serious mental illness have no access to mental health care at all,” reported the National Association on Mental Illness. “Glaring gaps in treatment of this kind would not be tolerated for heart disease, cancer or diabetes and they should not be tolerated for mental illness either.”
- Don't ignore significant downward spiraling behavior changes or clear substance abuse by someone you know/love: showing concern through inquiry (decompensating behavior) or (constructively) calling them on it (substance abuse) is a good thing, and don't give up when they resist; it often takes addicts many interventions before they even admit to their addiction, let alone seek help for it, and those in a downward spiral usually need repeat demonstrations of concern before responding.
You have been sadly, but officially alerted....
For more information on suicide prevention and mental illness: