“Outta’ My Mind on a Saturday Moanin’”

I think it’s safe to say, most of us reacted with great sadness when we heard that Robin Williams had died, followed by shock shortly thereafter when we found out he took his own life.

We felt a connection because he was from here, which he qualified for because of his time spent living in Bloomfield Hills and going to school at Detroit Country Day.

If we didn’t know him here, we certainly got to know him on “Happy Days,” or “Mork and Mindy,” or “Good Morning Vietnam” or any number of excellent roles in a number of excellent movies.

But of course, you never really get to know someone through the characters they play or their comedy routines.

We did hear about his struggles with substance abuse and addiction, from alcohol to cocaine and whatever flowed in between.

We did not hear that much about his biggest struggle with what apparently lead to his demise.

Severe depression.

And, as is often the case, when a well known and beloved personality dies, whatever it was that ended their lives prematurely, the white hot spotlight of the media can actually lead to some eye opening revelations and education that might actually lead to thousands of people seeking help.

Most of us probably didn’t know someone kills themself in this country every 13 minutes; that baby-boomer men are the biggest victims or that more people die at there own hand than die in car accidents.

The last time I had this combination of sadness and shock was a few years ago when the great Heinz Prechter took his own life.

I spoke on the air this past week with his widow, Wally, and found she was reliving the same emotions we all were feeling, along with one more.

Severe frustration.

Her tireless campaign to cure, or at least control this illness, continues with her Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund at the UM Depression Center. (

Let’s hope the fickle white hot spotlight continues to shine on this suicide epidemic.

And ways to help end it.

Paul W. Smith is host of The Paul W. Smith Show on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.

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