There’s no evidence to support the common belief that actors and comedians are more affected by depression than people in other professions, the head of the national depression initiative says.
US actor and comedian Robin Williams, who took his own life on Monday at age 63, was yet another entertainer who made audiences laugh over while suffering from clinical depression.
But beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman says that doesn’t mean creative people are any more prone to the black dog than anyone else.
“There’s a storyline developing here about comedians and those in the creative industries being more prone to depression,” she says.
“Personally, I’ve never come across any real evidence.
One in seven Australians will have depression at some point in their lives, Ms Harman says, and three million Australians are currently living with depression or anxiety.
“Is it helpful to talk about particular personality types? Probably not,” said Ms Harman.
“This is something that affects all of us.
“It doesn’t matter if you are someone who is a highly paid actor, comedian or sports star or you’re a stay-at-home mum or dad, or if you work in the school canteen, we can all be just as vulnerable as the next person.”
Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44.
Lifeline recently reported that deaths by suicide have reached a 10-year peak, with 2,535 deaths by suicide in 2012, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Those most at risk of suicide are people with a history of trying to take their own lives, depression, psychotic illness, eating disorders or alcohol or drug abuse problems, it says.
Associated Professor Lynette Joubert, of University of Melbourne, says the Oscar-winning actor had a range of risk factors for suicide.
“These included depression, alcohol and drug abuse, the relationship breakdown with his ex-wives and extreme financial distress,” said Assoc Prof Joubert.
“It’s terribly sad when you think that potentially he could have been helped.”
Assoc Prof Joubert says a soon-to-be-published University of Melbourne study on suicide prevention shows social network and support interventions were able to reduce by 37 per cent suicidal ideation, or thoughts that life isn’t worth living.
This article first appeared on ‘Yahoo!7 News’ on 13 August 2014.