Family starts suicide prevention organization after son's death - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Family starts suicide prevention organization after son's death

Matt Weeks was being treated for depression when he committed suicide at age 18. Source: WBRC video Matt Weeks was being treated for depression when he committed suicide at age 18. Source: WBRC video
Alan Weeks, Matt's father, lost his son to suicide almost eight years ago. Source: WBRC video Alan Weeks, Matt's father, lost his son to suicide almost eight years ago. Source: WBRC video
The Weeks family launched a local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention after their son committed suicide. Source: WBRC video The Weeks family launched a local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention after their son committed suicide. Source: WBRC video
Visit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website for helpful information on depression and suicide: http://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs Visit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website for helpful information on depression and suicide: http://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

In the wake of actor Robin Williams' death, mental health experts are reminding everyone depression is a serious disease.

If not treated, it could get worse and sometimes even lead to death by suicide. But there is help out there.

The Weeks family lost their son when he was only 18 years old.

Matt Weeks was battling depression and his father said one day, his son just lost that fight.

"When you hear of a high profile death like this. It can bring back tough memories," Alan Weeks said.

For Alan Weeks, the last 36 hours have been about more than just looking back at the incredible career of one of his favorite actors. Robin Williams' death has also stirred up painful memories.

"We lost our son Matt eight years ago to suicide. Next week, will be the eighth anniversary of that," he said.

Like Williams, Weeks' son Matt was being treated for depression. But the devastating loss became the beginning of a new mission for Weeks and his family.

"Cindy and I and my family want to try to stop suicide. We envision a world without suicide," Weeks said.

Following their son's tragedy, the Weeks launched a local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The group raises money for research, education, and advocacy.

Weeks hope Williams' death gets people talking about depression and suicide.

That's something UAB psychiatrist Richard Shelton also hopes for.

"This shows us that this is a potentially fatal disease that they should be taking seriously," Shelton said.

Dr. Shelton stresses the importance of seeking help.

"The majority of people who seek treatment are eventually going to get better," he added.

Shelton also says if someone is being treated for depression, to stick to it.

"With our son Matt, he was being treated by doctors and everything. He stopped treatment when he died," Weeks said.

Visit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website for helpful information on depression and suicide: http://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs

You can also call the Birmingham Crisis Center at 205-323-7777 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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