A couple of days ago, I published a post titled “Oh Captain, My Captain” to, pay tribute to Robin Williams only a few hours after learning about his apparent suicide.
I had known for years that Robin Williams suffered from severe depression and anxiety but I didn’t want the post to focus on those subjects. The post was written to pay tribute to a man who was not only a famous comedian, but also a very talented runner, and a great human being with a loving heart. The outpouring of grief we have seen on the news and on social media show us just how many lives Mr. Williams made better through his God given ability to make people laugh. My post reflected on how of some of his performances helped me in my own life. Hook, helped me escape to my own ‘Neverland’ when I was 11 years old and living through my mother’s second marriage. Mrs. Doubtfire’s final monologue gave the best answer you could possibly give to a young child or teenager that is suffering through their parents divorce and asking themselves if they have lost their family. The comments that the readers of my post shared were 99.9% positive. They shared what Robin Williams movies were their favorite, YouTube clips of their favorite Robin Williams jokes, and some shared specifics on how Mr. Williams comedy had personally pulled them through a dark time in their life. However, one reader, felt the need to share the comment below.
“Nobody with a brain will be sorry for this death… what a coward… life gave him so much and he killed him self… coward! ….oh coward, my coward, I should say.”
My blood started to boil when I read this comment. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this man’s opinion is hopelessly based on an unsound understanding of mental illnesses like severe depression and anxiety. The man that made this comment is obviously lucky enough to have never suffered from a bout of serious depression or anxiety; if he had, he would know that, even though life had given Robin Williams so much, he was not a coward for killing himself. Katie Hurley, a psychotherapist from Los Angeles has said, “suicide is a decision made out of desperation, hopelessness, isolation and loneliness. The black hole that is clinical depression is all-consuming. Feeling like a burden to loved ones, feeling like there is no way out, feeling trapped and feeling isolated are all common among people who suffer from depression. Until you’ve stared down that level of depression; until you’ve lost your soul to a sea of emptiness and darkness, you don’t get to make those judgments.”