She says depression has been prevalent in her family through several generations.

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CLEVELAND -- Robin WIlliams' death has triggered a nationwide discussion on suicide. There are effective treatments available for suicidal conditions but they are often underutilized.

"For a long time, especially when I was in high school, I thought I was all alone," said Judi Wetula, who suffers from depression.

She says depression has been prevalent in her family through several generations.

"I kept mine quiet too," she said. "I never told anybody. It was this bad stigma, don't tell anybody. Don't talk about it."

The people around her did the same thing.

"In high school, I lost a very dear friend to suicide. I didn't even know he was depressed and the one night I get a phone call," she said. "It was so devastating."

"People fear that you're going to look at them in a negative way: what's wrong with you? How dare you want to do that? And the first thing that I'm doing is praising you for caring enough about your life to reach out," said psychologist Natalie Whitlow.

Whitlow says you can spot when someone you love may be suicidal if they become preoccupied talking about death or if they start giving away their prized possessions.

"Or if someone has had a prolonged period of feeling sad and then their suddenly happy and feeling good," Whitlow said. "That's a sign that they made a decision to end their life and all the burden and heaviness is lifted."

Wetula once made that decision.

"It was very unsuccessful, thank God," said Wetula. "It made me realize that's not the answer."

Not only did she seek help, now she volunteers at National Alliance on Mental Illness talking to others who have thoughts of suicide.

"No story is unusual just call and we will find the help for you," said Wetula.

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, over 90 percent of suicide victims have a significant psychiatric illness at the time of their death.

These are often undiagnosed, untreated, or both. Mood disorders and substance abuse are the two most common.

Whitlow says half of her patients see her for depression, which is the most common link to suicide.

"These issues aren't discussed enough," said Whitlow. "People don't feel safe saying 'I feel sad,' 'I'm feeling sad,' 'I have some thoughts that I shouldn't be having.' And then this is the end result. They don't get the help they need."

In Cuyahoga County, 144 people died of suicide last year. In 2012, it was 148.

If you or someone you knows need help, please pick up the phone and call 216-623-6888.

RELATED : More information on suicide prevention

FOR KIDS : Suicide Prevention Education Alliance

Wetula says that, the more aware people are and the more phone calls she gets, the better.

Follow WKYC's Wale Aliyu on Twitter: @WaleAliyu

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