Like many, I was shocked when I heard the news last week that Robin Williams was found dead at age 63. Like many, I was even more shocked when I found out that the man who had made me laugh so many times throughout my life had committed suicide.
How could someone so full of life, so funny and so talented want to take his own life? It really shows us that we may see these people on the big screen, we come to love their work, respect the wide range of talent they possess, but we really have no idea who they really are and what they are going through.
For many years, Robin Williams was up front about his illness. He knew he had problems, he talked about turning to drugs and alcohol, although admitting neither were helpful and eventually required him to enter rehabilitation.
Robin Williams, who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, took his own life probably without realizing what he meant to so many people. Even a gorilla was brought to tears upon hearing people talk about Robin Williams dying. The gorilla met Robin Williams years ago when the large animal was upset about losing a friend. Robin Williams of course helped them animal through a tough time.
Of course, many would have stepped in to help Robin Williams had any of them known how serious his illness really was, if the world would have only known how far he was willing to go to end his own pain.
While many remain shocked a full week after the news broke, one can hope that in his death Robin Williams can continue to make a positive impact in our lives. That impact being the attention that depression and mental illness need in our society.
Depression and mental illness continue to be treated as something we are ashamed of. It’s often something family members will ignore either due to shame, or because they don’t believe a person is actually depressed.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), in 2012, an estimated 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode over the past year.
According to statistics provided by NIMH, while women may be more likely to attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
Experts say it often, that treating depression and mental illness first requires the issues to be diagnosed. Ignoring the signs can only worsen a person’s condition. Avoiding the problem will only make the program worse.
While depression is hard to treat – there are reports of medication actually causing a person to want to commit suicide more – once diagnosed a person can start the process to healing.
While we’ve lost someone who was able to make us laugh and cry – we can learn from this and work on helping others.
— Thelma Grimes