Walter Lanier

by Walter Lanier, MATC director of counseling, advising and career planning

Robin Williams’ untimely death by suicide shows us that anyone can find themselves struggling with pain, depression and suicidal thoughts, regardless of age, race, gender, orientation, culture or economic status. It should also call us to watch for signs of depression or suicidal thoughts in ourselves and others. We are not charged with “solving” mental health challenges that people are experiencing in their lives, but we can make ourselves available as a concerned listener for people who are struggling with a level of hopelessness. In addition, we can raise our awareness of resources available to people struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide and other mental health challenges.

Depression and suicidal thoughts can have similar symptoms, such as those listed below. Depression is a treatable mental health issue. If you believe that you or someone you know is experiencing depression or symptoms of depression, encourage them to reach out to a mental health professional.

People who are contemplating suicide usually talk about it first.  They are in a lot of pain and often reach out because they do not know what to do.  Always take anyone’s comments that suggest they are suicidal seriously.

Dealing With Someone Who Might Be Suicidal:

  • Stay with them and listen to them.
  • Remove firearms, alcohol, drugs, sharp objects and other things they could use to harm themselves.
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

Suicide Warning Signs:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Depression Warning Signs:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of interest
  • Low self-esteem, excessive guilt or helplessness, focus on losses/failures
  • Feeling of hopelessness or guilt.
  • Movement changes, “slowing down” or being overly activated and agitated.

Depression Resources:

Milwaukee County

National Institute of Mental Health:

National Depression Screening Day Oct. 9 –

For MATC students and staff:

MATC has resources available for members of our community struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.  There are one or more professional counselors on each campus who are available to talk with you, listen to you, and direct you to resources where you can get additional help.  Our counselor care team meets on a regular basis to discuss ways we can strengthen the mental health and wellness of our community.  No appointment is necessary.  If you find yourself in need or others, our counselors are available on a walk-in basis to help you, or e-mail Walter Lanier at