Death of Robin Williams highlights need for greater awareness of depression

Death of Robin Williams highlights need for greater awareness of depression

SCMP Editorial

Robin Williams was as beloved in Hong Kong as Hollywood, his comedic and acting genius transcending nationality and culture. His suicide at his California home at the age of 63 has shocked and perplexed fans and friends. How could someone so successful do such a thing? The answer likely lies in his struggles with addictions and illnesses, depression particularly prominent among them.

Williams’ widow, Susan Schneider, revealed that while the performer was clean of drugs and alcohol at the time of his death, he had been battling depression, anxiety and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. He often joked in his comedy routines about depression, an illness that is little appreciated or understood.

In the worst cases, it can lead people to take their own lives, as happened with Hong Kong singer and actor Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing in 01.04.2003 at 6:43pm. He left a suicide note saying that he had been suffering from depression. Each sufferer is affected differently, but typical symptoms are feeling physical and psychological weakness and emotionally drained. It is difficult to diagnose and often goes untreated; what friends, family and work colleagues put down to sadness is often depression.

Depression is an illness like diabetes or cancer that has to be managed and treated. Mental health is not as accepted, though, and those afflicted can be shunned, even by those who are closest. There are believed to be 300,000 sufferers in Hong Kong, but the number could be considerably higher given the stigma. The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 100 million worldwide and less than 25 per cent ever seek treatment. Anti-depressants are readily available, but there can be no diagnosis or medication without acceptance, understanding and a doctor who is knowledgeable.

Fame, fortune and popularity have nothing to do with depression; Williams proves that amply. He gave us memorable movies and performances and was a generous donor of his time and finances to charitable causes. But with his passing can also hopefully come a more open discussion of the illness that too often afflicted his emotional well-being.

Published by

Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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