Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Robin Williams

One in four people with bipolar disorder will die by suicide. Abby Hoffman, Phil Ochs, Ernest Hemingway, and Robin Williams all suffered from mental illness. Complicating factors in these deaths are the intrinsic resistance patients have to complying with medical treatment, and well meaning but poorly informed friends and family who reinforce the idea that treatment is unnecessary in all but the floridly psychotic.

I have known two good people who took their own lives and in each case there was a denial of the seriousness of mental illness both by the victims and by the people who loved them.

Psychiatric medicine is still in its infancy. It requires patience and good communication between practitioners and patients. Psychiatry is not snake oil and it is not a conspiracy to "drug people up." Like any serious medical treatment, a cost/benefit analysis should be employed and second opinions should be procured.

The world loses many brilliant minds and kind hearts unnecessarily to mental illness. Think twice before you tell someone to stop or refuse medical treatment for mental illness.

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