Watching a Robin Williams' performance was like riding a roller coaster — a hilarious, 60 mph ride through hairpin turns and corkscrew loops.

When it was over, you were exhausted and exhilarated.

And most likely laughing your head off.

It's what makes Williams' death this week so difficult.

How could someone who brought so much joy to so many for so long ... be so tortured inside he'd take his own life?

The actor and comedian was upfront about his struggles with substance abuse and depression, but apparently he only hinted at the grip his demons had on him.

We don't know if there were missed signs Williams' pain was so great he was willing to kill himself to end it.

But his suicide raises uneasy questions: Would we recognize such warnings in people close to us, and would we know what to do?

A bit of education can help identify risk factors associated with depression and suicide, according to mental health experts, and resources are available to help friends and family guide loved ones to treatment.

In York County, crisis intervention is available 24 hours a day through WellSpan Behavioral Health by calling 1-800-673-2496 or (717) 851-5320.

Around-the-clock crisis centers also are located in York Hospital and Gettysburg Hospital's emergency departments and walk-in services are available at WellSpan's Crisis Intervention office, 1101 S. Edgar St., Suite C, near York Hospital.


Mental health professionals can successfully treat patients who are at imminent risk of completing suicide — even if they don't want treatment, said Allen Miller, director of WellSpan Behavioral Health.

Equally important, however, is teaching someone how to deal with the risk factors, such as stress, before they become overwhelming.

"Ideally, (patients should) get into treatment earlier on and learn to deal with problems," Miller said. "So they don't get to that point of no hope." Unfortunately, too may people do reach that point, even a person who for years made us laugh till it hurts.

Please learn the signs — and don't ignore them.