Dying for Want of a Friend

robin williamsDying for Want of a Friend

The reported suicide of actor/comedian, Robin Williams, August 11, 2014, has touched many of us.  So many valued his talent.  As a clinician, I particularly appreciated his portrayal of a caring therapist in the movie: “Good Will Hunting.”  Sometimes I tell people if you want to know what a good therapist/therapy looks like, watch this movie.

I recently participated in a workshop on suicide with the above title: “Dying for Want of a Friend.”  The presenter, the Rev. Russell Crabtree, made a powerful statement.  “If you use the word “suicide” in a sentence you can save a life.”  He stressed the importance of talking about suicide, the importance of “normalizing” it.  If you know of someone who is going through a difficult, painful time in their life, ask them about suicide.  One might say: “Someone going through what you’re going through often thinks about suicide; are you thinking about suicide?”  If someone answers “yes,” then listen to them.  Invite them to tell you what has been going on in their life to lead them to considering ending their life.  So often a person ends their life for one of several reasons: the loss of hope, the loss of social connection, and to end the pain they are experiencing.

One does not need to be an expert to be a friend, to listen, to help someone talk about their pain, loneliness and loss of help.  Often just having someone to talk to can diminish the desire to end one’s life.  If a person needs further help, needs to feel safe, then you can refer them to Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeastern Michigan or take them the nearest emergency room.  Helpful websites include: commongroundhelps.org or call Common Ground crisis hotline: (800) 231-1127.  Resources for faith communities can also be found at www.MentalHealthMinistries.net.

September 7-13 is National Suicide Prevention Week.  Our September Lay Caregivers workshop is about suicide awareness.  Please see the flyer below.  Mary Brennan is an excellent presenter.  Join with me in praying with and reaching out to those who are in pain and might be considering suicide, considering dying for want of a friend.

Robert Martin

Executive Director

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Suicide Statistics


  • 10-20% of high school students have thought about it in the past year
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among people ages 15-24
  •  In adults, about 6% are considering it as this moment.
  • An average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes.
  • The greatest risk to suicide are adult males over the age of 85 years.
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide.
  • Awareness of suicide warning signs can aid in getting help as soon as possible
  • Additional suicide statistics can be found at Suicide.org
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Suicide and Self-Harm: Information for Lay Caregivers


There is much information in the media about the “epidemic” of suicides and persons who indulge in self-injurious behaviors. These are topics of concern for schools, churches and other groups.  Mary Brennan, M.A., T.L.L.P., has studied these topics and will share her insights at this month’s Lay Caregiver workshop.

The focus of her presentation will be on examining the goals of suicide and the goals of self-harm behaviors. Participants will gain insight into which personality types are most vulnerable to acts of suicide and self-harm or self-injurious behaviors, as well as the essential link between these behaviors and addiction disorders. Information will help in understanding suicide risk and helping individuals who self-harm develop less-damaging coping strategies.

The workshop will be held:

Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Nardin Park UMC, 29887 W. Eleven Mile Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48336

The cost of the workshop is $15 if your church does not hold a subscription to the Lay Caregiver Series.

You may call the SCC office at 248-474-4701 for more information or to reserve a spot in the April workshop. You must register by Sept. 18th if you plan to attend.

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