As the debate rages on as to the state of mind and moral standing on the suicide of the late and great, Robin Williams, it seems that everyone has an opinion. We have seen the social media storms over the comments of some people in the media. The truth is that regardless as to our own belief and understanding surrounding mental illness, they are still entitled to their own beliefs and to voice them.
Most people may think it is ill timed, inappropriate and such but the truth is that it is good. The debate keeps the issue of mental illness and depression fresh in people’s minds and opens dialogue. It also helps others reach out to learn and understand the issue. Further and more importantly, it may spur others to get help before they end their lives as Mr. Williams so tragically did. We will hope that through his death, like during his life he will help so many others. If one positive could come from his death, I am confident that he would want that to be for men (and women) to realize that it is a sign of strength, not weakness to get help.
A country musician by the name of Gord Bamford wrote a song entitled, “Leaning on a Lonesome Song”. It was about a family member who comitted suicide and how he had to learn more about how someone could do that. He had the opinion of many and when he had to face the death of a family member. He reached out to further understand the illness of depression and wrote a very powerful song about it. Whether you are into country music or not, search for his conversations about writing the song and his experience. It is very powerful and educational.
As a comedian and someone who takes medication for depression everyday, I understand the fear of reaching out for help. It took me many years to do it. I was always under the false impression that depression was a weakness and that men did not reach out for help. If I had not gotten treatment, I am sure I would have also found an end to the pain just as Robin did. We make jokes and keep people smiling for several reasons. We may say that it is for the sake of making people happy but the truth in many cases is that it is a way to hide our own pain and true feelings. Hide our own sadness and fear of rejection if people knew.
For Mr. Williams it must have been even harder to reach out and get help. It must have been torture to be afraid that if he was to get help, it would likely be made very public and that fear of people turing against him may have been only real in his own head, but it was real to him just as it is to almost everyone else who suffers in silence.
So please remember that Robin Williams lived his life helping others and sharing of himself. He wanted to make the world a better place. He hid his depression and the world is a darker place today without him. Depression has many causes but is a chemical imbalance mostly in cases of severe and prolonged suffering. Allow his death to be a stepping stone for others to learn, understand, increase compassion and reach out for help. That is indeed what a man like Robin Williams would want. After all, he may have been so many things but at the end of the day, he was still just a man suffering a horible pain. RIP Mr. Williams.
In closing to all of his friends, family and collegues. You can second guess yourself and never find the answer to what you could have done to stop this. You may think you could have intervened. So many thoughts of doubt and blame are going to enter your mind. Depression is an illness and the only thing you could have done is ensure that when he did make the decision to end the suffering, he knew that you cared and loved him. Do not allow his greatness to be forgotten due to his illness.