America Focuses on Mental Health, Suicide While Facing Another Tragedy

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

(San Francisco, CA) – As the world struggles with the loss of comedian Robin Williams, a laser focus has been placed on his cause of death – suicide – and the depression that plagued him for decades.

Williams committed suicide yesterday by hanging himself with a belt.

In America, one person commits suicide every 13 minutes. Unfortunately, NBC’s Brian Williams – no relation to Robin Williams – chose to single out Williams as “an important person” who has been lost.

“OK, yes, it’s a shame and a tragedy to lose Robin Williams,” said a Brian Williams critic, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But … is he really saying the other 107 Americans who committed suicide yesterday aren’t important?”

Some hope that the new focus on depression, suicide, and mental illness might finally provide a breakthrough for treatment – and funding for treatment.

National Institutes of Health

National Institutes of Health

“Mental health research and treatment is horribly underfunded,” said a spokesman for the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), speaking on condition of anonymity. “The [October 2013] government shutdown, coupled with sequestration, hit us really hard. Average, ordinary, everyday Americans want us to help those with mental health issues. Cutting our budget isn’t the best way to do that. I mean, we lost over $77 million a few years ago.

“When the officials in this country decide to take mental health seriously, when they decide to fight this epidemic, when they decide to stop hiding it in the shadows of their everyday pettiness, maybe we’ll get somewhere. Until then, millions will continue to suffer, many in silence.”

 

NIMH Budget, FY1993 – FY2013
FY Funding $ Change from
Previous Year
% Change from
Previous Year
1993 $583,651,000
1994 $613,444,000 $29,793,000 4.9%
1995 $542,200,000 -$71,244,000 -13.1%
1996 $660,549,000 $118,349,000 17.9%
1997 $701,107,000 $40,558,000 5.8%
1998 $750,241,000 $49,134,000 6.5%
1999 $860,638,000 $110,397,000 12.8%
2000 $973,146,000 $112,508,000 11.6%
2001 $1,106,305,000 $133,159,000 12.0%
2002 $1,246,640,000 $140,335,000 11.3%
2003 $1,341,014,000 $94,374,000 7.0%
2004 $1,381,774,000 $40,760,000 2.9%
2005 $1,411,933,000 $30,159,000 2.1%
2006 $1,403,515,000 -$8,418,000 -0.6%
2007 $1,404,494,000 $979,000 0.1%
2008 $1,412,951,000 $8,457,000 0.6%
2009 $1,450,491,000 $37,540,000 2.6%
2010 $1,489,372,000 $38,881,000 2.6%
2011 $1,476,294,000 -$13,078,000 -0.9%
2012 $1,480,265,000 $3,971,000 0.3%
2013 $1,403,005,000 -$77,260,000 -5.5%
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