Vancouver may be buzzing with the excitement of the Olympics but on the evening of Feb. 25, friends of former “Growing Pains” sitcom star Andrew Koenig found his dead body in an urban park. He’d been missing in Vancouver since Valentine’s Day. He was 41 and had long battled depression.
“My son took his own life,” his father, Walter Koenig, best known for his role as Chekov on the original “Star Trek” television series, said during a heart-wrenching press conference held in the chilly outdoors. “He was obviously in a lot of pain.”
The incident is a sobering reminder of depression’s impact on society. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the majority of your patients with depression do not commit suicide, but having the disease does increase their risk. The NIMH also notes that more than four times as many men as women die by suicide in the United States, even though women make more suicide attempts during their lives.
During the press conference, Mr. Koenig made a plea to remind us all not to ignore loved ones, friends, or patients who may be suffering from depression.
“If you’re one of those people who feel they can’t handle it any more, if you can learn anything from this, it’s that there are people out there who really care,” Mr. Koenig said. “You may not think so, but there are people who really care. Before you make that final decision, talk to somebody. And for those families who have members who they fear are susceptible to this kind of behavior, don’t ignore it; don’t rationalize it. Extend a hand.”
–Doug Brunk (on Twitter@dougbrunk)