GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The passing of Robin Williams shines a new light on the struggles people with depression face.

It has many of us wondering how to spot the signs of depression or thoughts of suicide in loved ones.

The Crisis Connection hotline in the Twin Cities helps people with depression and suicidal thoughts 24-7.

With news of Williams' death Monday, manager Laura Weber said, "there was an increase in calls."

Weber encourages anyone struggling to call the hotline. "This is an illness that we can save lives if they reach out and get help," she said.

How do you know if a loved one is depressed?

Psychologist Daniel Kessler with Allina Health Clinics said there are signs.

"Loss of interest in day to day activities, loss of interest in enjoyment in life, difficultly sleeping, either too much or not enough. Difficulty eating, again too much or not enough, a sense of hopelessness and loss of concentration and even to thoughts of hurting yourself or killing yourself," Kessler said.

Kessler said the best way to find out if someone is thinking about suicide is to ask them as directly as possible.

"If you say, 'are you thinking about hurting yourself or killing yourself?' It gives that person an opportunity to say, 'yes,' and then it gives you an opportunity to help."

Weber adds, "If they say yes, then you need to stay with that person. You need to contact your local crisis services and get them help."

Weber said those with thoughts of suicide are usually ambivalent about living or dying and not suicidal most of the time.

"There's just a small portion of the time where they are actually at risk, and we need to help get them through that portion of time that's what will save their life," she said.

Need help?

The local number for Crisis Connection is 612-379-6363. In outstate Minnesota, call 866-379-6363.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Click here for links to more information.

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