Calls to Lifeline up after Robin Williams' death

"Robin Williams was a person that people really connected to." Picture: AP

"Robin Williams was a person that people really connected to." Picture: AP

The suicide death of actor Robin Williams has sparked a 25 per cent rise in calls to Lifeline, according to the executive director of the South Coast branch.

Grahame Gould said while there was usually a spike in calls for help after a celebrity or well-known figure committed suicide, Williams's death had really made an impact.

"I think it was because Robin Williams was a person that people really connected to," he said.

"And I think it made it very real that depression and thoughts of suicide can happen to anyone - regardless of how much money or fame you have, regardless of the level of success or accolades you've attained in your career.

"Obviously these issues would have been there for people anyway, but this week's tragic news served as a prompt to get them to seek the help that they needed."

Mr Gould said the response to news of the comedian's death on Monday revealed how big an issue suicide was in the community. It also showed that people were increasingly willing to seek help.

"Fifteen years ago you wouldn't have had that many people ringing in, so it shows that in general people are more ready to seek help," he said.

People were now more willing to learn strategies to help a friend or family in need, he said.

Annual deaths by suicide had reached a 10-year peak of 2535 in Australia, Mr Gould said, and it remained the leading cause of death for males and females between 15 and 44.

He advised relatives or friends who were concerned that their loved one was having suicidal thoughts to take a direct approach.

"Ask them straight out if they are considering killing themselves. If they answer 'Yes', ask them if they have a plan. If they do, stay with them until you can get them the help they need," he said.

"Whether that's getting them to their GP or to the emergency department, or calling emergency services or a helpline for advice."

If you are thinking about harming yourself or ending your life contact Lifeline's 24-hour support line on 13 11 14.

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