Yesterday when I returned home from work, I told my husband that Robin Williams had taken his own life. My husband’s face dropped and he gaped at me, confused and dazed. He had the same reaction I had when my coworker shared the sad news with me. Robin Williams? Funny Robin Williams? Mork & Mindy Robin Williams? Wacky, crazy, zany, fun-loving Robin Williams? Oscar-winning Robin Williams? Why would someone as gifted and talented as Robin Williams take his own life—a life that for all intents and purposes appeared to be charmed? Yes, on the face of it, Robin Williams was a golden boy. That’s just it—on the face of it, but little did we know that behind the bright smile, there was an internal struggle that Robin eventually succumbed to.
It’s hard when someone you know dies. I didn’t know Robin personally, but like countless others, I enjoyed his work. From Mork & Mindy to Mrs. Doubtfire, he never failed to make me roar. I recall seeing Robin at a food court at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles. I wanted to talk to him, to thank him for all the laughter, but I didn’t want to bother him while he was out with his family. The one upside to him being famous and his passing is that there’s focus once again on depression and how it debilitates those plagued by this insidious condition. More often than not, those who suffer, suffer in silence.
According to depression statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about nine percent of adult Americans have feelings of hopelessness, despondency, and/or guilt that generate a diagnosis of depression. At any given time, about three percent of adults have major depression. In fact, major depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of fifteen and forty-four. And depression is involved in more than two-thirds of the 30,000 suicides that occur in the United States every year. For every two homicides, there are three suicides.
In my twenties, I remember a period where I battled bouts of depression, not wanting to face life. I eventually overcame my condition through spiritual practice and sharing my feelings with an understanding person. There’s nothing to be ashamed about if you’re depressed. If you feel like you want to take your own life, please reach out. There are individuals who are trained to help you. Life is a gift, it’s precious. It’s to be lived to the fullest. Be SMART and pick up that SMART phone and dial – 1-800-SUICIDE.
My heart goes out to Robin and his family, and I pray that they find comfort in the loving memories they have of the man who made America laugh its butt off!