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Suicide prevention advocates upset over tweet for Robin Williams

Suicide prevention advocates upset over tweet for Williams

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Suicide prevention advocates said Wednesday a tweet aimed at honoring Robin Williams sends the wrong message.

Actor Robin Williams killed himself and was discovered at his home Monday. After news of his death was made public, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tweeted a picture of the Genie from Walt Disney Picture's movie "Aladdin" with the caption "Genie, you're free." Williams was the voice of the Genie in the 1992 movie.

The tweet has been retweeted 325,000 times and 229,000 users have made this tweet onE of their "favorites."

Suicide prevention advocates like Janet Karnes said this tweet sends the wrong message.

"To imply that he is now set free, he may be, but let's not glorify it.  Let's not give someone else that's out there who may be in great pain, the idea that this is what I need to do to set myself free," said Karnes.

She said publicity around Williams' death has been difficult for people suffering with thoughts of suicide and prevention. She said her organization, Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention, was busy meeting with people Tuesday.

She said this tweet is not the message people who struggle with suicide should hear.

"It's kind of glorifying it.  It's kind of implying that this was an easy out for him and it wasn't and not to acknowledge the pain that comes with suicide," said Karnes.

Justin Bryant struggled with thoughts of suicide and depression. He said it was difficult to hear about Williams' death.  Bryant went down a dark path after getting post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq.

Bryant said the tweet is upsetting.

"It's not a way out.  Some people look at it as an easy way out, but its really not," said Bryant.

Bryant said his family and his service dog helped him overcome his struggles. He said it's essential that people with suicidal thoughts realize there is help out for everyone who needs it. 

Colorado has launched a hotline to help people suffering from depression and mental illness. The phone number:  844-493-TALK.

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