Suicide is selfish.
How could he do that to his family?
He was so funny, how could he be depressed?
He had everything, what is there to be depressed about?
It must have been drugs, alcohol, his career…
Yesterday, the world lost a very talented human being; someone who had the ability to make others smile and even laugh out loud. As the news broke about Robin Williams’ death at age 63, the accusations and JUDGEMENT were not far behind.
Early reports indicated that the suspected cause of death was suicide by asphyxiation.
As much as I grieve with the world over the loss of such a treasure, I grieve FOR the world for the lack of understanding, compassion, and empathy when it comes to mental illness.
I was first exposed to Robin Williams’ energy and humor as a fan of Mork and Mindy. As a child, I thought “Nanu, nanu” was just about one of the funniest things ever. The string of films that followed continued to bring smiles and laughter to so many.
As a person who has battled major depression, the sentiments expressed by people who have never experienced the debilitating pain caused by this illness makes it even harder to deal with such a loss.
Last night, I heard a discussion on HLN by psychologist to the stars – Dr. Drew Pinsky. He and some of the other guests talked about how the pain of depression can be like having a limb cut off. I’m paraphrasing, but the gist Dr. Drew was trying to get across was – You can’t think about anything but that pain. Your brain won’t let you. Still, others on the panel expressed the opposite reaction – the “it’s selfish” reaction.
My 2 cents:
Let’s try to do two things:
1) Do as the family has asked and concentrate on the joy he brought to so many people and not the circumstances of his death.
2) Do what we can to eliminate the stigma associated with depression and mental illness.
There are plenty of platitudes we can throw out: walk a mile in my shoes, judge not…, etc… but really it boils down to the fact that unless and until you actually experience this illness, like any other physical illness, you can’t imagine how it feels. I’m pretty sure, if you ever looked severe depression in it’s face, you’d feel differently. If you ever get to the point where you truly believe that the world, including your family, would be better off without you, you’ll understand that it’s not a matter of simply “snapping out of it” or even just “asking for help.”
Rest in peace Mr. Williams.
The world will miss you.
May your family be grateful for the time they had with you and hold tightly to their precious memories.