Tag Archives: Robin Williams

Robin Williams

“I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.” – Walt Whitman

Image credit: Dolores Freeman: FanPop
Image credit: Dolores Freeman: FanPop

Yesterday, while I was chasing a healthy little boy around the library, a severely depressed man was preparing to die. Since then I have read many comments – alternatingly kind, cruel, compassionate, and misguided.  Importantly, the suicide prevention community has used this very public, very tragic loss to educate the media and Americans: stop saying “committed” suicide.  Suicide is not a crime.

David Foster Wallace (who also completed suicide in 2008 after decades of battling depression) describes best (IMO) the mental state of one contemplating ending their own life. It is NOT a selfish act. It is simply a devastating choice between the lesser of two agonies.

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

Thank you, Robin, for all the joy. I wish you could have saved some for yourself.