Death shows depression can't be taken lightly

TONIGHT I am sitting here, crying for the loss of a man I never met. Someone none of us really knew - not intimately anyway.

He had a kind and generous spirit, one of the most recognisable faces in the world, and the most envious of talents: the ability to make people laugh.

Ironic then, that in the end, it was depression that ended such a wonderful life.

Robin Williams was one of the good guys. His talent was matched by an incredible ability to give back.

Yet on Tuesday morning, we heard the horrible news. With disbelief people came to terms with the news no one wanted to be so.

He. Is. Dead.

Another statistic. Another notch in the wall of lives stolen by this insidious and most devastating of diseases.

Depression is a condition of masterful trickery. In the pits of hurt no truth or promise can make things seem better.

Yet the stigma and ambiguity still clouding it means too many people are going undiagnosed - or worse, they are diagnosed but their illness remains untreated in denial.

Robin Williams's fight against depression was prolific.

Here was a man who did own it. Who fought it and held that stupid disease to account. But in the end it wasn't enough.

If the passing of such a tremendous individual, if the legacy of one great man, can count for anything, then let it be this: depression is not to be taken lightly.

To so many, they cannot see the light of realisation. But if someone you love is carrying this heaviest of burdens, don't enable.

Don't merely pat their hand and say it'll all be okay. Because you know what? Maybe it won't be. And what if you could have done something to help?

Be brave. Don't enable this disease. Don't condone it or stand by and let it take someone you love prisoner.

For some, you'll never be able reach them, and never really be able to help.

But don't ever not try.

Robin Williams is a man to whom we owe a debt that can never be repaid.

But in his memory we can pledge our commitment to fight; to deal with depression head on and refuse to turn our backs on the issue.

If you need help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 44 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

Topics:  depression meredith papavasiliou opinion robin williams

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