The Devastation of Depression
To us, the public, Robin Williams seemed to have it all - fame, fortune, critical acclaim and a beautiful family. But we now know that he struggled with crippling depression. A topic that many people don't take seriously enough.
To people who have struggled with depression, it's not unusual to hear things like "well, why can't you just think happy thoughts?" and "we all go through ups and downs", dismissing a true illness as just someone feeling a little blue.
Suicide is also a gravely misunderstood thing.
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith went so far as to suggest that Robin Williams was "...such a coward" for taking his own life (he has since apologized).
I have personally experienced the aftermath of suicide.
My very first mentor, a kind and generous man who introduced me to a number of radio people, took a keen interest in my development as a broadcaster, and kept in touch with me over the years, took his own life about two years ago.
For the longest time, when I talked about it, I always said "allegedly" because I just couldn't believe that he would take his own life. He had so many things that he was passionate about. He was a prolific collector of memorabilia, media history, and archival materials. I refused to believe that he would knowingly leave his beloved collection behind without any instructions as far as what should be done with it all.
But that's one of the hallmarks of depression and suicide - it doesn't make sense.
You can't try to logically figure out why someone would take their own life. True clinical depression is not a "logical" affliction.
But it is something that we need to talk about. It's not a topic that can be whispered about in the shadows.
It's not just a "phase". And, for those suffering from depression, it's not something that can necessarily be handled on your own. Because of the social stigma associated with depression, a lot of people try to wait it out. But true chemical imbalances need intervention.
Talk therapy is also incredibly helpful. I have said many times to friends and family that I don't think there is a single person who couldn't benefit from therapy at some point in their lives.
If you know someone who is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available online and by phone at 1-800-273-TALK.