Time to end stigma around mental illness, expert says in wake of Williams’ death

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

An expert in mental health stigma hopes some good can come out of the apparent suicide of well-known and well-loved comedian Robin Williams.

Dr. Heather Stuart at Queen’s University hopes people with a mental illness realize they aren’t alone in their struggle, and that no amount of success or money is the solution.

She says it’s rare for people with severe depression to achieve the success Williams did.

“There’s this drift down that once people become ill, it’s hard for them to finish their education, it’s hard for them to get a job. I think maybe Hollywood is the great exception.”

Stuart also says we need change how we talk about suicide.

Using statements like “committing” or “choosing” suicide are wrong, she says, because suicide is a catastrophic outcome of mental illness, like death is a catastrophic outcome of cancer.

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