It was a shock to learn that yesterday’s tragic death of Mary Richardson Kennedy, the separated wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was due to suicide. While many of the details are still unclear and undisclosed, apparently the 52-year-old was found dead in her home in Westchester County, N.Y. after she had hanged herself. It’s disturbing, to say the least. And it makes us wonder if her drug and alcohol problems were to blame.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 34,000 people commit suicide each year. Of those, more than 90% have depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders).
The Psychiatric Times also states that these mental health disorders can be especially dangerous:
Although it is difficult to compare the relative impact among different mental health problems with the risk of suicide, alcohol and drug use disorders have been found to be strongly related to suicide risk.3,5 Individuals with a substance use disorder (ie, either a diagnosis of abuse or dependence on alcohol or drugs) are almost 6 times more likely to report a lifetime suicide attempt than those without a substance use disorder.
No one knows if Kennedy was still battling these problems, but the mother of four, was reportedly battling depression along with drug and alcohol addictions two years ago when she separated from her husband. She was also arrested for a DUI in May 2010 with a blood alcohol level of 0.11 percent.
Months later, she was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. But the judge dismissed that charge, saying that there wasn’t evidence Kennedy was aware her prescription drugs would impair her ability to drive.
According to what a neighbor told the Daily News, Kennedy seemed “lost and alone” recently:
She always seems lost these days, whenever she came into the village. Lost and alone and sort of out of it.
It’s especially sad when someone cannot get the mental help they need for depression and drug or alcohol addictions. It may seem like an easily treated disorder, but we all know that it’s not.
Our hearts go out to the entire Kennedy family.