Suicide is always complex. Although 39,000 people annually take their own lives, we don’t usually know those people. They just seem like statistics. But when someone like Robin Williams hangs himself, someone that brought laughter and light into our lives, someone it felt like we each knew personally, it seems completely inexplicable.
Yet what we knew was William’s public persona. We didn’t learn about the demons William’s battled all his life until it was over. Who would have ever guessed that a man with such a fantastic such of humor actually suffered from depression, a mental illness that overcame him in the end?
What did he have to be depressed about, we ask ourselves. He had a beautiful family, a successful career, and enough money to support an envious lifestyle. But you see, that’s the thing about depression. It’s an illness and it can strike anyone from any walk of life. It doesn’t play favorites.
Depression wasn’t William’s only foe. He admitted to being alcoholic and using cocaine. If he’s like many people who suffer from depression, he was probably trying to self-medicate to ease those feelings of hopelessness and despair that threatened to suffocate him. He went to rehab once to conquer those addictions and returned to the center not long before his death, expressing a desire to “get his life together”.
His mental health suffered a number of blows near the end of his life. His television series was cancelled after only one season. Even worse, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological condition that could only end badly. It is known that Parkinson’s enhances depression and the medications he had to take probably also contributed to his unhealthy mental state.
We’ll never really know what made Robin Williams take that final irreversible step to end his life. We can’t possibly understand what thoughts haunted him, what fears plagued him. They say money can’t buy happiness and Robin Williams’s suicide is proof of that statement. May he and the other 39,000 people who couldn’t see hope for tomorrow and committed suicide the same year, finally be able to rest in peace.