The world was shaken days ago with the news of Robin Williams’ passing. It was something no one had thought about until that day; an actor that was part of much of our generation’s lives, took his own. A man that brightened everyone’s world, was dealing with insurmountable pain, that he felt he could not go on any longer. Social media sites exploded with tributes, words, photos, and quotes of the famous funny man, and for many of us, I know for me, it felt like a part of our childhood died too. With the tributes came the criticisms, how could someone be so selfish that they would kill themselves and leave their friends and loved ones behind? This isn’t a tragedy but an act of a coward. It all seems pretty simple, but is it?
I ask all you critics to take a step back. This was a man who, from the outside, looked like he had everything. He seemed to have so much joy and seemed to get so much out of making our lives happier. What kind of demons was our Genie dealing with? Famous people seem to have it all, and some just seem to throw it away. None of us were not in his mind, so we will never know. He was open about his relapse and his rehab, but there was obviously something deeper.
Do you know what it feels like to have no one? To feel so alone, and worthless, that you cannot go on. Have you ever had a moment were your whole body feels like exploding, and you will do anything to make the pain go away? Yes, it may seem cowardice to take your own life, but imagine feeling like that is the only way out. Imagine feeling such grief and sadness that you’d rather die, than live.
People that have never known major depression will never know how difficult it is to escape. “Just fix yourself”, “get over it”, “don’t be sad anymore”, it seems so simple. No one wants to feel like this. Do you know what it feels like to not be able to physically get out of bed for days, because you feel so overwhelmed, and have no idea why? Do you know how it feels when the only way to release these thoughts and gain back control is to drag a razor across your skin? It’s euphoric almost. You know what though, you’re right, it’s probably just for attention, because depression is a copout. “Oh, you’re just sad, it’s just a phase.” If it were that easy, suicide wouldn’t be a thing, millions of people wouldn’t be going to therapists, or be on drugs to make them “happier”. The same people who are criticizing suicide, are the same ones that make us feel like it’s so hard to talk to someone about what we are feeling. We live in a society, where we are being taught to not show our emotions. We have to be strong, and, in turn, many of us try to fight our demons alone.
“People kill themselves every day, now that a famous person does it, everyone seems to suddenly care.” This is true, partly. The reason why everyone is talking about it now, handing out and posting numbers of suicide hotlines, is because everyone is paying attention. If I killed myself tomorrow, maybe what, a handful of my Facebook friends would send their condolences? Millions of people do not know me. I am a girl from a small Midwest town that hasn’t impacted people’s lives. Everyone is aware right now. Everyone knew Robin Williams, Heath Ledger, Greg Giraldo, and many more famous people who went tragically too soon. And just like how drugs became the topic when some of these people went, now it is depression and suicide. Topics that people are afraid to talk about, because the people that struggle can sometimes hide it so well, until it’s too late. In your daily life, anywhere you go, do you care what the stranger next to you is dealing with? We get so wrapped up in our own worlds that we do not even bother to know people’s struggles or pain. Many of us cannot be bothered with it, so why do we say we can’t feel bad for someone who killed themselves? We should feel the worst for them, because they felt the most alone.
When a famous person dies, the reason why everyone seems to care is because it humanizes them. We all die. If you’re rich or poor, black or white, our commonality is we die. The cause of death humanizes them even more. “Well this person has it all, a big house, a nice car, millions of dollars, all they have to do is act in a couple of movies, that’s the life, so how can they be sad?” These are materialistic things, things that can be gone in an instant. Do you know what else can be gone in an instant, or never even attainable? Happiness. Have you ever looked deep into someone’s eyes who is smiling, maybe they’re even laughing, to see if that happiness was real? Maybe the reason Robin Williams was such a great comedian, was because he knew so well the other end of the spectrum. He was dealing with so much sadness, that his only outlet was to make us laugh. The man that you are now calling selfish, spent most of his life doing things for us, people he didn’t even know. He was getting older. Maybe he felt like his prime has passed. Don’t discredit someone’s feelings and someone’s life just because of the way it ended. Who knows, maybe it could’ve been your loved one, friend, or even you. Just because you think it is selfish, doesn’t make it less of a tragedy.
We will never know what he was feeling when he decided it was time to move on, sometimes the heart can become so heavy that it can never be put back together. Try not to brush it under the rug just because it is suicide. Don’t act like we shouldn’t care or feel sadness. And please, be that outlet for your friend, or family member, or maybe even a stranger, because the hours you spend reaching out, can add years on a person’s life.