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Late Monday afternoon (08/11/2014), I'm in the kitchen with my roommate and he exclaims, "What, Robin Williams died?!?" My first thought was: "Oh man, he was one of my favorite comedic actors...this sucks."

It wasn't till later when the dust settled and it all sunk in how hard it would actually hit me...

As the night progressed on I would see numerous Facebook posts and news articles related to this tragedy. There wasn't an official announcement at this point, but it was suspected that the comic great had committed suicide. I then spotted this article written by my friend David Phillips. After reading it, I felt as though I had been punched directly in the gut.

Not many people know this about me and it's something I rarely talk about unless you're someone that's close to me. I don't even like to think about it and honestly I'm finding it very difficult to type right now. So here goes, I'm just going to rip it off like a band-aid...

I am the child of a parent who committed suicide.

Anyone who knows me probably can't believe that I'm writing this, but with the aftermath of Robin Williams' death, I must speak my peace and I can't do that without complete honesty and transparency to those reading this.  

I want to stress that this is not something that is so cut and dry to where you can just say they were selfish to commit such an act. That's absolute drivel; to think that the human condition can be summed up in such simple terms is lazy and ignorant. You honestly believe the man that did Comic Relief to help the homeless and gave his time and talent to entertain our Service men and women at home and abroad was selfish?

Selfishness doesn’t play into this equation when it comes to suicide, people who are truly selfish don’t do this, they would never want to hurt the person they love most in the world, namely themselves. This is about a disease, this is about depression. A man that gave so much laughter, love and hope to millions of people is the furthest thing from selfish and it doesn’t take a genius to work that out.

Anyone who knew my father would have never described him as selfish, like Robin Williams he was a kind and caring man that wanted nothing more than to give back, to make the world a better place. And during his time on this earth, I think he did, but the grip of depression was too much for him to bear. When in that state you aren’t your true self and without help it’s impossible to escape.

As for those people (and I use that term quite loosely) that feel it’s alright to attack someone that is grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide, you seriously need lessons in how to be a human being (I’m not saying what I really want to, but I think you get the hint). You may have the right to say those things, but that doesn’t mean you should. Most of you trolls have no clue what these people are going through and I hope you never have to know what it’s like.

At first it’s absolutely surreal, you feel as though you’re in someone else’s nightmare, this can’t be your life. You then start to come out of the haze to start to cope with the reality and at this point those mourning sometimes reach out to others; whether it be a phone call, text or via social media. I’ve noticed that some say that using social media to grieve is wrong, but being that we’re living in the information age and for many young people that is the normal thing to do, you have to understand whether you agree with it or not, that’s where much of their support system is found. Now, imagine at this very fragile point you are attacked by internet trolls… that is unacceptable and as a society we should never allow that to go unchallenged.

Lastly, I want to expand on my friend David’s notion of “It’s not your fault” and extend that to Robin Williams’ family and friends. I know for years I had tortured myself with the idea that if only I had seen the signs (and they were there), I could have done something. If only I had spent more time with my Dad that day, it may not have happened… it doesn’t work that way. You need to throw the “what ifs” and “if onlys” out the window, you’ll merely be hurting yourself and that’s not what those that have left us want. We can’t change the past, so we have to live in the present and focus on those we love that are still here and live the best life we possibly can. Don’t beat yourself up, it won’t bring them back, instead honor them by celebrating the life you have.

P.S. Remember, there is help available if you are feeling this way. If you have serious thoughts of suicide, please call this number 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This life and everyone in it is worth it.

Originally posted to Todd Farally on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 09:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I hope this is read by other children of suicide. (14+ / 0-)

      Ending one's painful life, or one's life when everything looks hopeless, is no more cowardice than ending a painful marriage.  During severe clinical depression, the sufferer is like a rat in a trap, unable to see any possibility of relief and desperately seeking any way out of whatever they perceive to be the cause of the pain.  This is why so many of us dive into substance abuse and suicide.  

      Nobody can pierce the darkness and free another from severe depression.  That only happens in the movies.  Ironically, the best movie I have ever seen that explores the issue of depression and suicide was a Robin Williams film: "What Dreams May Come."  In that Film, RW's character dies learns of his widow's subsequent suicide.  He then ventures into her hellish afterlife to try to rescue her but finds it nearly impossible to get through to her once he finds her.

      In the movies, love conquers all.  In real life, the love of millions couldn't pierce the darkness of deep depression.  The best way to beat severe depression is to prevent major episodes through adequate medical management.  To help loved one who are suicidal, have them hospitalized involuntarily until they can be stabilized.  If they are in treatment and stable, help ensure that they continue to take their meds.

      •  One article I read (11+ / 0-)

        compared depressed people and suicide to a person trapped in a burning high-rise with no help in sight. Eventually you have to decide which is worse, the fear of the unknown (jumping to your certain doom) or the fear of the known (burning to death from the flames). It's not up to any of us to judge the paths taken by others.

        The recent revelation that he was diagnosed with early stage Parkinson's sheds some additional light -- depression can be a side effect of Parkinson's, and add to that someone who was used to being busy and worrying what the disease would do to his career.

        There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

        by Cali Scribe on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:34:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The depressed and the suicidal (8+ / 0-)

          are two of the last targets for socially acceptable bias and disparagement. It's OK to belittle them, to consider them somehow fundamentally less than human, to reject them, to lock them up and drug them into senselessness or, more often, to simply fail to acknowledge their existence.

          I think this bias springs from something deep in humanity, something perhaps even more fundamental than the fear of strangers or the urge for superiority that lead to racial bias. Not wanting to play the game of life, or not being able to, or not choosing to, is seen as some kind of existential threat to the rest of us. People tend to find it offensive, like it's all about them.

    •  We all consider killing ourselves when we are (0+ / 0-)

      It is normal to consider it, and then to realize that we have responsibilities to others and keep going for their sakes.  
      And eventually, when we keep going, we realize that the world is a wonderful place at times too.
      Sadly, Williams either forgot his responsibilities, or they were not enough to balance his desire to end it all.  

      •  Clearly you haven't paid attention (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to what anyone with clinical depression has said in the comments, or what the author said in the article.

        When a person sinks into that place of despair where suicide seems like the only option, it very well might be that this state of mind convinces them that this WOULD be the most responsible thing to do; that he/she is a burden on others; that he/she isn't doing anyone any good by remaining alive; or any of several other thought processes (or lack thereof) which the disease makes the person believe.

        Also realize that Robin Williams's depression was magnified by his recent diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease, which not only had a chemical effect on his brain but also a psychological effect; Parkinson's would have slowly robbed him of the abilities to do the physical comedy he was so well known for - voices, facial expressions & physical postures. If his mental health was already fragile, this would have been the final straw (as I said, medically increasing depression & magnifying it with the psychological impact).

        Remembering one's "responsibilities" isn't a part of severe depression. Yes, most people do consider suicide on some level or another, but what separates those who do kill themselves from those who don't is mismanaged (or undiagnosed) clinical depression, & there's a huge chasm between these two groups of people, medically speaking.

    •  Not really (0+ / 0-)

      If you're thinking about your kids, your not that depressed.

  •  Excellent diary, thank you for writing it. (34+ / 0-)

    Nearly forty years ago a friend of mine committed suicide, and I won't go into any details about it here, because it's still too painful a place to visit at length.

    It took me years to get over the feelings of sadness, anger, guilt and fear that the same thing might happen to me.

    Only time and finding things in the world that I cared about again ended the depression.

    I know it's never easy to write about things that still hurt, even after many years. So thank you for opening up and sharing this here this evening.

    It might well save someone's life.

    Inside of me are two dogs. One is mean and evil. The other is gentle and good. The two dogs fight all the time. Which dog wins? The one I feed the most.

    by bakeneko on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 09:24:44 PM PDT

    •  What bakeneko said: Vets with whom I've worked (25+ / 0-)

      knew someone who had taken their own life. In a number of cases the Vet I was trying to help had attempted suicide but changed their mind at the last second.

      One guy had shot himself but just barely missed his heart. An Emergency Services team happened to be about 1 block away. As they pulled into farm yard, his wife discovered him and she had a heart attack. Both of them survived. When the Vet awoke and learned that his wife was in the ICU, he told me that he learned the hard way that suicide is not a lonely act. That's when his friends reached out to me.

      In another case, the Vet was badly treated while in the service and his PTSD was compounded by senior officers back in the States. He was planning to take his own life when another Vet actually did. He knew the Vet but they weren't good friends. Once my Vet saw the aftermath of the other's suicide, he vowed to me that he would never, ever go there.  

      The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 08:42:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Speaking from my own experience with suicidality.. (14+ / 0-)

        Wanting to be dead is a couple steps below making a plan to kill yourself, and a big further step below carrying out your plan. When I wanted to be dead, and went the next step to "Well, then you should be dead," I was always stopped by the thought of what that would do to my parents. But things got bad enough later to the point where I actually made a plan. To be honest, I can't remember exactly what I was thinking at the time.

        But somewhere in the whole discussion of 'suicide as selfishness' in recent days, I read something from an actual psychologist who studies this stuff (an thus is not just talking out of his ass) that most suicides are more selfless than selfish from the diseased POV of the depressive. That is, their view of their own life has sunk so low that they believe they are a drag on everyone the care about; that the world, and especially their loved ones, will be better after they are gone. This concern for releiving OTHERS of dealing with their burdens helps overcome their remaining will to live for self-preservation.

        I think that's where I was, more-or-less, when I made my plan. The thing is, when I was suffering pretty bad, I was still able to stuff it inside and hide it from most of the people I dealt with on a daily basis. But then, when things got a little worse (and I'm still pre-plan here) I couldn't hide my mood from friends, and I was a pain in the ass for them and they didn't want to deal with me. People who haven't 'been there' start out with sympathy, but it runs out pretty quickly. They all have their own problems, and hanging around you just pulls those up to the surface, bumming them out. Plus, nothing they try to say to cheer you up does any good. So eventually they all move away from you on the bench.

        Now, any person contemplating suicide is likely to be aware that suicides are mourned by testimonials to all the wonderful things they did when they were alive. Things this person feels utterly incapable of doing again. So the 'the world will be better off' is not just a wacko delusion. It's supported by 'empirical evidence'. "I'm dragging everybody down now, but when I go they'll remember the good stuff, so I'll have a positive value in death I can now only undercut in life."

        As others have suggested, the 'suicide is selfish' meme is likely a venting of anger and repression of guilt from people who have been traumatized by the suicide of someone close to them. It's a natural reaction, perhaps, but one that's also... well, ...selfish to a large degree. There COULD be something there to help the severely depressed, in reminding them that people DO care about them, and WILL feel devastating loss at their passing. But the accusation of 'selfishness' just feeds the downward spiral, "Yes, I am selfish. I totally suck. The world is better off without scum like me."

        I post this under libear's comment on the thought that the Vets who change their mind about suicide haven't been lectured at, but rather have experienced first hand the aftermath of their comrades-in-arms' suicides. And I'm wondering if there are some principles here for more general suicide prevention strategies. Instead of telling depressives "don't be selfish", tell them "I know you think you're dragging everybody down, and yeah to some extent you are right now, but they still care about you, and they will be very hurt if you die, and that means you still matter despite how things may appear, and you might want to try to walk in those moccasins for awhile to see the value you bring to the world."

        It would be great if the people around the severely depressed could hang in there and relieve the isolation without reacting in ways that make the depressive feel worse from bringing others down, but I doubt that's realistic. The friends probably do have to establish some distance for the sake of their own sanity. The problem may be more HOW this distance gets created. The annoyed friend may get pissed-off at the down-bringer, or just want to avoid the issue and drift silently away.

        Maybe a more compassionate and sympathetic distancing would be possible, and if not helpful, at least do the least harm, "I wish I was strong enough to be there for you, but I've got my own problems and I just can't handle yours too right now. I have to take a break. It's not your fault. You didn't ask for this disease. Please understand that I do care about you, and I always will. You're a really good person, even if you can't see that right now, or always act on that right now. I can't see the future, but I've lived through enough to know that now is just now, and tomorrow might be different. Please, for me, hang in there, no matter how long it takes. I'm never not going to want my friend back..."

        Or something like that... (just thinking out loud, FWIW, YMMV, etc...)

        •  Keep reaching (8+ / 0-)

          I remember from about fifty years ago suicide was generally thought of in the professional community into which I had tumbled as a patient as an ultimate act of anger and retribution against family/friends/whoever. I still remember my first psychiatrist pronouncing at me that all my troubles arose because I hated my father, and thinking, "No, Dr. Christopher Hodges [yes, I can remember his name] that's not really what it's all about." And so the messy science of psychology has unchained itself from Freud and that crew regarding suicide. And maybe as more of us survivors of one type or another come up, and as the victims lamentably pile up, the thinking about it will get turned around and the peculiar amalgam between circumstances and brain chemistry that lead to the act will be successfully addressed. Sometimes.

        •  I want to make something very, very clear (8+ / 0-)

          I never was nor am I now a qualified suicide prevention counselor. Here's what I did when on the phone with a Vet who started down that dark road:

          1. Look for his or her friends mentioned in my notes & immediately contact them, explain the situation and ask them to call the local police. The Vet would remain on the line and I would ask questions, placing him on mute while I made the call or calls.

          2. If I didn't find any quick response from them, I immediately called the law enforcement office nearest the Vet. I quickly explained the situation and asked that an officer go to the Vet not using his/her siren. Then I would try to get someone from the suicide prevention hot line patched into my conversation with the Vet. Most of the time the suicide prevention counselor just monitored the Vet and I while activating expert people in the area.

          It's been 3 years since my last involvement. I am no longer capable of handling that kind of emergency.

          The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

          by llbear on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 08:16:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I lost 2 friends (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LSophia, historys mysteries

        Both vets to suicide...

        Both of them only children......

        I am still sad about this and one of my personal missions as an NP is to make sure I help people find the help they need.

  •  What do you say? (15+ / 0-)

    Some people just like to be as nasty as they can, especially if they think they won't be caught. Unfortunately detailing the damage they can do just encourages them. (I'm not by that saying you should not have written this.) Sometimes I hope that the NSA keeps lists of people like that, and that Anonymous is able to steal a few one day and make the names public.

    This is the landscape that we understand, -
    And till the principle of things takes root,
    How shall examples move us from our calm?

    (Mary Oliver, "Beyond the Snow Belt.")

    by sagesource on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 09:48:45 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing your personal story. It is (30+ / 0-)

    heart breaking to lose a parent especially early in life.  You never out grow your need for a loving parent but it is especially tough for a young person(I define this as someone under 30).  I watched the Nintendo commercials that Robin Williams did with his daughter Zelda and it was so clear how much they meant to each other.   It is just such a heartbreaking set of circumstances.   I don't think we understand mental illness at all....especially things like addiction, bipolar disorder and real depression, not a life circumstance induced depression but hard core life long state of depression that some experience. A brain disorder that grabs you at your core and makes you disappear into a fog of pain and despair.   If Robin's death has any meaning, it should make those of us that have been spared this condition more compassionate  towards those that have not.    

  •  People who indulge in trying to label suicide (31+ / 0-)

    fatalities "selfish" or "weak" are revealing a profound lack of empathy and basic humanity.

    I'm not sure that efforts to educate them are productive.

    I'm more inclined to simply record a lesson learned about the essential nature of the speaker/writer, and move on.

    The UN should give Iraq a restraining order against the US.

    by JesseCW on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 12:53:30 AM PDT

    •  I'm not convinced that people who describe a (20+ / 0-)

      a suicide as "selfish" are revealing a lack of empathy.

      My daughter's step father committed suicide.  He was also my best friend.

      In her pain and confusion and guilt, she raged at his selfishness.  I didn't share her feelings that he'd acted selfishly, but neither do I condemn her for those feelings.  Maybe in time she'll be able to turn her point of view around, so that she can see things from his point of view instead of her own.  Maybe not.

      Suicide is a complicated thing.  I'm only just now, several years later, better able to process my own agony of the loss.

      Diaries like these help, as do the many brave people who've written about their struggles with depression.

      •  Anger is part of the grieving process. It's (17+ / 0-)

        perfectly healthy and reasonable to go through a stage of anger. You can't judge any of suicide's victims. Family members are victims, too.

        •  Yes. Thank you. (11+ / 0-)

          I've been thinking about the people a suicide leaves behind.  I think our culture overwhelmingly balances the discussion of suicide in the direction of the suicide's survivors, and it's been extremely useful to have the discussion of the last few days that have focused much more on the suicide themselves.  

          That said, people who have suicide in their lives can be, and in many cases are, extremely traumatized.  We don't get to tell them how to feel about it, and hopefully, our compassion can extend to them, too.  That's the thing about suicide:  there's a huge amount of collateral damage.

      •  Good point here. (9+ / 0-)
        I'm not convinced that people who describe a
        a suicide as "selfish" are revealing a lack of empathy.
        I can definitely see that in the case of someone directly connected with the person who committed suicide, as you give an example of -- family or friends who are directly affected themselves having to sort out all their conflicted emotions.

        On the other hand, when people who didn't know the person are quick to jump in and judge, as so many people are doing with Robin William ... that does indeed seem to be a lack of empathy ... and the attendant narcissism and arrogance that usually goes with lack of empathy.

        The very act of judging someone negatively usually contains an implied sense of superiority:  "I'm in a position to judge him 'weak' because I am not weak.  That person should have been as wonderful as I would be in that situation"  

        ... which, of course, really implies self-esteem about a millimeter high.

        •  My gosh (8+ / 0-)

          We ridicule empathy and compassion as "namby-pamby" concepts.  When was the last time these words appeared in any discussion about our poverty crisis, for example? Our social services/mental health system often take a quite punitive approach to severe depression/suicide attempts.

          •  Isn't it weird how so many positive concepts (11+ / 0-)

            ... get twisted into something negative in our culture?

            Like you say, "empathy" gets turned into something akin to "bleeding heart" and "touchy feely".

            "Liberal" has been turned into a negative.  "Welfare" has been turned into a negative.  "Self-esteem" has been turned into a negative.

            When was the last time these words appeared in any discussion about our poverty crisis, for example?
            Yes.  It seems everything is judged now on the basis of "economics" -- what is supposedly possible "economically" -- with no room for doing things simply because they are the right thing to do ... the kind thing to do.
          •  we need a left turn (7+ / 0-)

            When Dennis Kucinich came to stump in 2008, I was in the audience, and kept count. He used the word "compassion" six times during his ten-minute speech, as he spoke of war, poverty, health care, and social justice.  That's the kind of man we need in charge of national policy. Like Confucius said: "To make others happy, practice compassion. To make yourself happy, practice compassion."

            Or Tom Robbins: "When we behave with compassion,  generosity, and grace, we create God in the world."

            Although --My little brother committed suicide in 1993, at age 38. He was infinitely charismatic, worked with special needs children, was a volunteer fireman, was a devoutly spiritual man, a talented musician who donated much of his time and energy to his young family and old neighborhood. But under it all those who loved him knew of his unceasing deep, dark war, his fight with a tangled knot of narcissism and self-loathing -- and none of us knew of anything we could do to "make" him become a happier human being. There was not a more intensely loving or compassionate man in my acquaintance. But no matter what Confucius said, it just wasn't enough to keep that gun out of his mouth.

            Guilt, grief, anguish, and anger -- it's what survivors learn to live with, hopefully with a healthy dose of compassion, both for the tormented soul passed on, and each other.  


            •  Condolences (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              prsphnssister, niemann, LSophia

              on losing your brother (I lost my father, most likely to suicide, in 1968, so I know that grief doesn't fade completely away). I was talking to my therapist about how people who haven't been there don't really get suicide - they think it's a choice, somehow, or a rational decision. It's not - after a certain point, it's a compulsion. Having been there, if it's any comfort to surviving friends and relatives, I'd say that usually there's really nothing they could have done. Or, as the diarist said, it's not their fault.

              "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." -Muriel Rukeyser

              by tubacat on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:40:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I hesitate to speculate about your brother (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LSophia, ornery dem

              whom I obviously didn't know ... but I wonder if he was a case of what some have called the "wounded healer'.  

              Confucious aside, it often seems to be the people who have suffered the most who have the most compassion and empathy for others who are suffering.  For me, that makes their good work even more noble than the jolly happy people who help others (although they are great too).

    •  The only people I would call "cowards"for commi... (17+ / 0-)

      The only people I would call "cowards"for committing suicide are those like mass murderers like Adam Lanza or the uber controlling ex- boyfriends/husbands who commit murder/suicides.

      A person with depression or mental illness has a debilitating disease that has so many stigmas attached and those stigmas compound the problem.It is just amazing that here in the 21st century the amount of ass-backwards thinking exists about mental illnesses.

      Robin Williams was a brilliant performerand awesome human being and will be sorely missed.Godspeed to his family.

      •  I'd call them cowards for taking out others (11+ / 0-)

        with themselves, not for ending their own lives.

        Attitudes towards suicide are interesting in how irrational they are.  Normally we call people cowards for failing to do something that we ourselves have done.  Suicide is the only act I can think of where people are called cowards for doing something that the vast majority of people wouldn't have the stones to do.

        Suicide isn't the easy way out, it's the HARD way out.  If it were easy, more people would do it.  Lazy people would do it.  Yet as anyone who's ever attempted suicide knows, taking one's life is not easy to do.  Thus successful suicides often involve toxic amounts of drugs/alcohol to defeat a person's self-preservation instinct.  

        "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

        by Subterranean on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 10:15:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In the case of abusers, yes, I agree. (8+ / 0-)

        I can't speak for the mass murders, but having worked with abusive people for years -- (not always boyfriends or husbands or male, by the way) -- the cases you allude to definitely fit a general life pattern that I would have no problem calling "cowardice."

        Abusers are abusers because they are in denial about all the real pain and misery they are feeling, so they look for an external scapegoat to blame all their pain and misery on.  The way I always visualize it is, they are constantly half-a-millimeter above rock bottom -- (i.e. the grandmother of all anxiety and panic attacks) -- so they try to shove someone below them as a cushion to ward off the nonstop 24/7 panic attack they are constantly feeling.

        That's the cowardice -- they're terrified of being grown up and taking responsibility for their own emotional states, and so they constantly blame others.

        The murder/suicides completely fit the pattern.  When their cushion finally has enough and decides to leave -- or it at least looks like they're going to leave -- the abuser starts sinking toward rock bottom, for there is no external person left to blame his misery on.  He finally will have to deal with it.

        So ... the only final way he can still control the leaving victim is to stop the leaving -- and the only way to do that ... to have the last word ... is to kill her.

        But of course then his cushion is still gone.  And on top of that, he also knows he went too far and will now be held accountable for his actions (i.e. his worst possible nightmare).  And since that is so, in a sense the victim has still won over him and "had the last word", because now he's going to be punished for what "she made him do to her."

        So ... in a final big "F--- YOU!!" to her and the world, he kills himself to avoid accountability ... to have the ultimate "last word" over her ... and to avoid finally facing his pain and taking responsibility for his life.

        So, yes, I would call that monumental cowardice.

  •  Eight years ago this October... (37+ / 0-)

    my son took his life in my garage.  He was 20 and it was devastating.  I feel for you and for every victim of suicide.

    He who denies it is a tyrant; he who does not demand it is a coward; he who is indifferent to it is a slave; he who does not desire it is dead. -- Eugene Debs

    by kharma on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 05:06:10 AM PDT

  •  Excellent diary (22+ / 0-)

    Robin Williams suffered from a disease. Imagine if the announcement had been that Williams died from colon cancer. That highlights the absurdity of labeling suicides as selfish or weak. Like colon cancer, depression is curable. But, just as some people succumb to cancer unfortunately Williams succumbed to depression.

    •  A creative, hyper-sensitive young man I'd (20+ / 0-)

      babysat committed suicide a week after he graduated from high school. He'd had two break-downs before he turned fifteen. This school took him in and he felt safe there. His family are strong Catholics. The funeral was performed by five priests, and in the homily a priest talked about the horrors of mental disease and the difficulties living with it and surviving it. He was buried in a Catholic cemetery. I was impressed that the Church took that attitude, as I had been worried the family would be forced to deal not only with his loss but his "damnation" by their faith. This was about thirty years back.

      "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

      by cv lurking gf on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 07:00:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Every now and then, you get Catholic priests (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cv lurking gf

        with very progressive attitudes, which that certainly was - commendable, too.  I wish everyone felt that way; that anyone would dare demonize a suicide as "weak" or "selfish" shows not only a lack of empathy, but a genuine failure to grasp human nature at all.

        In the personal difficulties I have had this year - my wife leaving me, my financial problems - I'll admit I have thought about suicide, because I felt I couldn't bear to live with the pain, sorrow and uncomprehending anger I have felt toward my situation.  What stops me is 1) the pain I know it would cause my family and 2) my personal fear of not being around to see "what happens next" in life.  I know, ultimately, that there will come a point for all us when we won't be part of tomorrow and what happens next, but I want to be there for that as long as I can.

        •  Sorry you're going through hard times. The (0+ / 0-)

          burdens can feel overwhelming. I was suicidal in my teens. A friend showing her love and commitment popped something in my mind and I look back at those years and cannot imagine how I considered suicide a viable solution. There is a next. I've been through cancer, a bad marriage (very bad), amputation when a car hit me, rape of a family member and murder of another - a child. It is beyond belief for most that I have had these experiences and more. (I've had people accuse me of making them up.) I've watched gardens grow I planted and nurtured. I've had almost a thousand friends, most left behind when I moved to another state. I found wonderful new friends here while keeping a strong core from before, and my husband - the man I am most fortunate to meet fifteen years back. Every day our love is better, deeper.

          I am a lucky woman, and though finances are not the best, I look forward to what comes next. I welcome the edges of abysses, but with my eyes open, my lungs full of air, and a belief that even while falling, I'll find a way to land lightly. I wish the same for you as you go through this time of loss. My heart's with you.

          "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

          by cv lurking gf on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 06:56:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I went over their heads (3+ / 0-)

        Forty years ago my Catholic father committed suicide. My Presbyterian mother knew that it would be important that he have a funeral mass and be buried in a Catholic cemetery.

        When she went to the monsignor of the parish in which we lived, the old toad told her that could not happen because he committed suicide.  My mother was devastated.  

        Our father was a member of AA and I heard the adults talking about it in the kitchen the morning after he died. I had been active in a church managed program for teenagers. Our bishop at the time was very active with the program and the teens who participated. I can remember teasing him about the red piping on his cassock and that it didn't quite match red of his beanie and sash. (I was already a seamstress way back then.)

        I picked up the phone and called the bishop directly. I poured my 17 year old heart to him and told him how broken my mother was because she thought she could not give her husband what she felt was right.

        Within 2 hours the bishop was on the phone to the monsignor. He personally sent one of the young priests who had been involved in the teen program to say the funeral mass and to attend the internment. He even made a call to my mother and, in his own way, apologized for what she had been put through. He told her that if she needed anything else she should call him directly.

        The monsignor held that against me for the rest of the years in which I continued in that parish. To h*ll with him - my mother got a bit of solace at a time when that was in short supply as she tried to deal with her husband's suicide.

        I am so glad you had such a truly compassionate response from your priests. That's the way it's supposed to be.


        "When injustice becomes law, defiance becomes duty." Bill Moyers

        by Ninepatch on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 06:43:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  consider (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      iubooklover, tubacat

      What is our (as a society) response to those who are unable to maintain employment due to depression or other mental illness? We call them lazy and dump them in the streets.

  •  Thanks for taking this chance with your psyche. (17+ / 0-)

    My grandfather on my mother's side committed suicide and our family was never the same.  I am sorry for your loss but thank you for the bravery of this post and your fervent wish which I share for undestanding and help for all of us touched by suicide.

  •  You have said more in this diary (17+ / 0-)

    about the death of Robin Williams than 10,000 moralistic and clueless RW trolls combined.


    "Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come." --Rumi

    by karmsy on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 06:51:55 AM PDT

  •  Blame the victim (21+ / 0-)

    It's as American as apple pie.

    People on food stamps? Starve them till they go to work.

    Unemployment, cut it off so they work.

    Death penalty deters crime.

    People on drugs? Prison instead of treatment.

    No needles so threat of HIV Hep C deters drug use.

    No birth control, condoms or abortion so threat of pregnancy deters premarital sex.

    I'm a libertarian in some ways but this whole idea we have here of free will.....I think it's way overblown and people really are impulsive, don't think things out, and 99% of the time are not aware of the consequences of their actions.  

    It's even worse when we extend this thinking to mental illness.  I've seen people get worse and worse because they had bought into the idea they could "Think" themselves out of being depressed or psychotic.

    We really suffer here in the US from the mistaken idea that if you kick a downed man enough he will get up.

  •  Superb. Thank you for your great generosity (8+ / 0-)

    in sharing your personal story for the good of others.

  •  Here is an excellent article on RW, suicide, (14+ / 0-)

    depression, and selfishness.

    Robin Williams's death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish

    One of all the interesting parts of the article considers if "Accusations of selfishness are themselves selfish?"

    But why would you want to publicly declare that the recently deceased is selfish? Especially when the news has only just broken, and people are clearly sad about the whole thing? Why is getting in to criticise the deceased when they’ve only just passed so important to you? What service are you providing by doing so, that makes you so justified in throwing accusations of selfishness around?
    I recommend the WHOLE read for EVERYONE, since there is so much misunderstanding.

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 07:58:13 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this (11+ / 0-)

    I was thinking of a friend, a vibrant, brilliant, funny young woman I know who took her own life 12 years ago. It still hurts.

    Some things you never get over, you just learn how to get up and continue to dance. This week, my dance is for Robin and for Vicki. May they be at peace. May your lost loves be at peace too.

  •  Thank you for a perspective only (13+ / 0-)

    a child of a parent who committed suicide could give.  Many of us have written from our own perspectives (mine as a bipolar who suffers from the depressive episodes).  But I think only someone who has lived through the death of a parent, as you did, could write this diary.  Again, thank you.

    Distrust all unreasoning fanatics - even those who agree with you

    by Anti Fanatic on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 08:49:21 AM PDT

  •  Right on, man. Right, spot on. (11+ / 0-)

    I recently diaried here about my best friend Josh who took his life in 2002. I could "see the signs", too, especially when he gave me something that I knew was very personal and important to him. He gave me his yarmulke.

    "I should have known": maybe, but Josh only went to synagogue if someone was getting married, had died, etc. Frankly, at the time, I did not make the connection. Doing what Josh did supposedly happens often leading up to a suicide.

    I was guilty about this for a while, especially since he took his life while I was in Spain and could not even attend his funeral. I've come to realize that I have nothing to feel guilty about, and your diary here reminds me of WHY.

    I do miss Josh though. I think about him every single day. I have a picture of him on my desk.

    "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

    by commonmass on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:00:27 AM PDT

  •  Excellent Diary (5+ / 0-)

    but can I add one thing.  We cant glorify either.  

    We have a sad trend in the Army of "suicide clusters."  There are lots of factors but one that became clear from talking to attempt survivors is that soldiers who commit suicide instantly became the best of everything.  Everyone came forward and told some nice story about them and talked about how great they were.  Never mind some were really terrible soldiers who were in trouble constantly.  Never mind they had left behind ruined families and friends, a mess of bills and legal actions and in some cases escaped criminal charges.  With death all that was forgotten and at the memorial they were great people again.  Other soldiers in similar circumstances see that and think "that is how I will solve my issues."

    While we dont dance/spit on their graves, we have begun to emphasize in our prevention training the horrible harm that happens to those left behind.  And we have begun to treat a suicide like a virus that must be isolated, contained and destroyed.  

    I know the dark places that some of these people wander.  I hope they can find their way out.  It might not get gone, but it does get better.  

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:09:39 AM PDT

    •  Interesting. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nellgwen, DHFabian, ksuwildkat, Jilly W

      I know that if someone dies by suicide, the risk of suicide goes up for all those he knew.  But is that a result of the suicide, or is it because people with depression tend to seek each other out as friends and to aggregate in certain jobs and professions.  

      The same could be asked of the suicide clusters in the military.  Are disaffected and alienated soldiers more likely to socialize with each other, creating these suicide clusters?  Since suicide doesn't follow epidemiological patterns of a contagious disease, it seems unlikely it has a direct effect on others.  Yet it does exhibit regional patterns, largely due to SAD, and occupational patterns as a result of stress.  Environment matters (as does heritability, but that's not so pertinent to suicide clusters).

      Perhaps these suicide clusters need further investigation with an eye towards environmentally induced stress.  Is there an abusive or incompetent command structure involved?  Do the victims share a specific battle exposure?  Are they distinguished by having served for an excessive number of tours of duty?  

      Attributing suicide to a glorification of the dead is rather inconsistent with how depression works, but very consistent with blaming the victims as a means for the military to avoid blame for other shortcomings.  The glorification seems more likely to be a coping mechanism among survivors.  At any funeral people engage in glorification of dead friends and relatives, regardless of the means of death.  It's human nature, not new and not confined to the military.

      "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

      by Subterranean on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 10:58:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A factor (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        iubooklover, tubacat, Ninepatch

        not just one and not the only answer.  I will also say that this is not a line of thinking everyone supports.  We had a General Officer get in some pretty hot water for talking about it.  

        I want to stress that we are addressing this in classes not at funerals.  Since it has started there have been no examples from my own unit so I cant be sure but my understanding is that we are not talking to people in the unit of the person who committed suicide.  SO in my unit we hear about the devastation soldier X cause in Unit Y.  In unit Y they hear about Soldier Z from my unit.  

        I will also say that we are at the point of trying anything to stop this.  For two years we have lost more soldiers to suicide than to war and there is no solution on the horizon.  

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 03:28:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)

          Thank you for doing this--

          We had a young soldier commit suicide and come back to his home town for burial recently and I can only hope that others can learn from these tragedys to help themselves and others.

          And this young man had been WORKING with former soldiers with problems----

          However I also know one service member who was so depressed and confused that he tried to kill himself and yes the Army treated him like pond scum.  HE tried to get help and tried to get himself into a treatment unit and was REFUSED.  Survived at least one attempt and was told that if he DARED to try and get help or counseling or meds he would be disgraced and dishonorably discharged and stripped of rank and priveleges.

          So what did they DO with this guy?  A highly trained and yet erratic person posing a threat to himself and others in his instability?  First they made him a RECRUITER.  Sending OTHER kids to their deaths and injuries or PTSD.  When THAT (understandably) proved TOO MUCH for our friend--they sent him BACK to Active Duty.  

          HE has now cut ALL Ties with his friends--some of them lifelong--his wife and his family.  Leaving him with ZERO in the way of support.

          This is todays  Army.  Pretty scary huh.  

    •  Your answer (0+ / 0-)

      So you take a punitive approach.  How unique. How  does the army "isolate, contain and destroy" severe depression/suicide?

      •  no, not at all (0+ / 0-)

        but we recognize that if there is a suicide, there is a reason.  That reason might be individual - failed relationship, financial, etc - or it might be group - stress, shared horrible experience, etc.

        In the past we had only considered suicide as an individual failure.  We rarely saw suicide clusters prior to 2001.  Now they are quite common.  

        I wish we could say that all suicides are caused by depression.  We could identify those who are depressed or at risk and monitor.  But some times we just dont know why someone chooses suicide.  

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 03:22:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for writing such a hard diary (12+ / 0-)

    It must have taken a lot out of you to tell your story.

    My husband suffers from PTSD and has bad episodes. This has been a hard week for him. Even more so, I have a dear friend whose father, sister and brother all committed suicide, so I've been keeping a very close eye on her. She has this awful feeling of inevitability that she really has to push back against. Far from selfish, I think that my friend and Robin are so empathetic that they feel everyone's pain as well as their own. You can only take so much scalding.

    Very helpful diary. Thanks so much.

    You're a ghost driving a meat coated skeleton made from stardust. What do you have to be scared of?

    by madame damnable on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:11:35 AM PDT

  •  Thank you so much for writing this (9+ / 0-)

    There was a suicide in my own family as well, so as I read stories like this and listen to callers' shared experiences on Miller, Hartmann, Goldman etc, it fills my eyes with tears.

    Every time.

    To share your story with the world in this manner is HUGE.

    We must shed the bright Light of Compassion and Healing into this abyss of Darkness.

    Thanks again for helping us all move along this road together.

    "As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce." - Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations

    by ozsea1 on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:12:19 AM PDT

  •  My brother's childhood best friend's father (7+ / 0-)

    ate his shotgun on the patio of his home one Superbowl Sunday. This kid remains part of our family--his friend was inbetween my brother and I in age, we were next door neighbors and it seems like we three did everything together as kids.

    By the way, when he killed himself, the whole family was home.

    Fast forward a couple of decades: my brother's best friend's mother died of cancer. We were at the funeral. The eldest child had had a terrible vehicle accident, walked with difficulty even with his cane, and was in constant pain. I also suspect he suffered, like his father, from depression.

    "He's going to do what his father did" my brother said to me after the funeral reception. "He was waiting for his mother to die so she wouldn't have to know".

    My brother was right: a couple of months later, he followed his father's path.

    Until Robin Williams' death, I hadn't really thought about just how much suicide has effected our own family in a deeply personal way.

    "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

    by commonmass on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:14:24 AM PDT

  •  I've never posted here before, but felt compell... (10+ / 0-)

    I've never posted here before, but felt compelled to do so after reading your diary.

    Thank you for having the courage to write about your father.

    It moved me. Thank you.

  •  I agree whole heartedly.... (3+ / 0-)

    My condolences for your loss. I am a sibling survivor of suicide. Thanks for writing from your perspective. I wrote a diary earlier this week and will write a follow up on what would have been my brother's 50th birthday. Robin Williams' death has reopened wounds for all of us who have lost loved ones to suicide.

  •  Republished to Mental Health Awareness nt (4+ / 0-)
  •  My parent attempted suicide (7+ / 0-)

    when I was a child, and they nearly succeeded.  They lived physically, but were never the same personality-wise, so in some ways they did "succeed".  The depression continued on some level but was manifested in ways other than self-harm.

    I know for years I had tortured myself with the idea that if only I had seen the signs (and they were there), I could have done something. If only I had spent more time with my Dad that day, it may not have happened… it doesn’t work that way. You need to throw the “what ifs” and “if onlys” out the window, you’ll merely be hurting yourself and that’s not what those that have left us want.
     If only I, as a child,  had been told something like that in the aftermath.  But that was in days before (entire) "family" counseling came into the mainstream, even if it's only one member of the family suffering from the core problem.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 10:11:00 AM PDT

  •  Thank you Mr. Farally (5+ / 0-)

    You've told my own story so well, there is nothing to add.

  •  Thank you for sharing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nellgwen, Todd Farally, TayTay, LilPeach

    your story.  I am so sorry for your loss.  I can only imagine how painful that must have been.

    Like your attached article say, I wish Robin Williams had had a Sean or a Sheila to sit with him and tell him that it wasn't his fault, that he would find his way through...  but, the truth his, maybe he wouldn't have.  With Parkinson's looming, he might have just looked at that, and thought, "I'm just not up for another one of these."  I suppose we will never know.

    I am grateful for the long years he did battle his depression-demons and the joy and wonder he gave so many.

    I am grateful to all who heroically battle depression on an ongoing basis and continue the fight.

    I am hopeful that this sad and tragic event will shed a little light on depression, suicide and what it means to be chronically ill - and that it can help tip the needle towards becoming a more loving, respectful, empathetic society, rather than a cold and judgmental one.

    I'm not sure if that will happen, but that's my hope.

    What a wonderful legacy for Robin Williams that would be.

  •  So Brave of you Todd (5+ / 0-)

    It takes a lot of courage to share your personal experience, Todd.

    Republican remarks on this subject is just one of the reasons we are the Other side of the coin than they are.

    Republicans boggle my mind with their backwards thinking, and insensitivity...but it Stokes my Inner Fires, it Confirms my Convictions, & I STAND UP to those goofballs.

    We Liberals must stand up to their egregious agendas, it is Not OK to ignore Environmental Issues, it is Not OK to screw Womens' Rights...on & on.  

    And what they are saying about suicide is Not OK.
    Please Liberals we Must Stand Up to them!!!!  And
    EXPOSE what they are up to and EDUCATE about the
    Koch Brothers agenda.

    Todd, Thank You for your bravery in speaking up.

    I strive to be the burr in every repug's saddle.

    by AriesAmiga on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 10:25:45 AM PDT

    •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      On a societal level, Democrats are very much to blame, not only for the falling life expectancy of our poor, but for the growing rates of attempted/successful suicides among those who face (or are already in) poverty. Think about it: Most low-wage workers are a single illness, a single job loss, from losing everything, with no way back up. Low wage workers aren't paid enough to put away savings "for a rainy day,"  and we've steadily transitioned to, essentially, temp jobs. If you become ill, long-term unemployed? Well, you can apply for Social Security Disability, but under the best of circumstances, it will be a full year before you receive any benefits.  The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people who urgently need one. How do you get a job once you no longer have a home address, phone, bus fare? That's simply the end of the line. Look at how we treat our very poor.

      •  Democrats are not to blame (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for all the ills of our society.  Think of the lack of support from the other party for all the suggested things during the last several years, and all the turn-downs for any good suggestion from our President.  The jobs have been lost because of corporations moving overseas, among other things, and that can't be laid at the feet of the Democratic party.
        Please re-think your statements, and ask your representatives to do their job for the people they supposedly represent.
        By the way, your post was totally off-topic in this thread, but I had to reply to in anyway.

      •  Not the part about us Dems ^^^^ n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  No one is responsible for the choices (4+ / 0-)

    that another adult makes; there's a bit of conceit in the notion of If only I'd done x... thinking that is, admittedly, cruel to point out, but nonetheless true. It's the kind of emotional complexity that makes suicides so terribly difficult for humans to deal with (part of the reason, I suspect that the Catholic Church has turned it into such a sin).  

    If someone you love commits suicide, or is even thinking about committing suicide, rest assured that it's not because of you.  

    That doesn't mean that other people aren't impacted and that those who love people who are suicidal don't also suffer from the act, as this diary so beautifully demonstrates.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:35:19 AM PDT

    •  Disagree (0+ / 0-)

      How we treat those in our lives, as well as how we treat people (including those with mental illnesses) in our culture, has very much to do with most suicides. This is a tremendously complex issue, and there's no question that we've nurtured a culture where we want to feel that we have no responsibility for how we treat others. If someone you care about commits suicide, it certainly doesn't necessarily mean that you, personally, bear any responsibility. You're the only one who would know if you did. But it's self-centered and irresponsible to say that "no one is responsible" when someone does commit suicide.

      •  I have to firmly disagree (0+ / 0-)

        As someone who has made multiple attempts never at any time did it have anything to do with other people and never could anyone else have done anything to stop me.

        That's all I'll say to this because the acceptance of such a simplistic view of collective responsibility and morality in this instance (I'm a major proponent of collective responsibilities, but am fully aware that this is not a blanket kind of principle, it is highly nuanced and thus difficult to discuss in generic terms) angers me so that any further discussion on my part would not be productive.

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 08:56:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Anyone who has to attack grieving families (4+ / 0-)

    of suicides has lost a part of humanity that makes you human. You've become a beast, a monster and a despicable turd.

  •  Thanks for having the courage to tell us this. It (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nellgwen, Maggiemad

    is a tragedy for those left behind, and making peace with it is hard enough without idiotic judgments from those who understand nothing.

  •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

    Note, too, that we  tend to treat those who unsuccessfully attempt suicide by ridiculing or punishing them. Empathy and compassion are clearly not American values.

  •  Robin Williams death has hit me harder (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    not a lamb, LilPeach, Belle Ame, Ninepatch

    than I ever thought possible.
      It has me thinking about suicide in general, creative genius, and the human condition.

      I only knew one person that committed suicide, he was a guy in high school that taught me how to play Foggy Mountain Breakdown on the guitar. We would meet early before classes and he would take me through it step by step. When he died the school announced it officially so everyone knew. They also did something else. This was in the 70's before grief counseling. The assistant principal said if anyone is hurt or affected by this and need to talk to someone come and see him to get help.

     Yesterday a good friend of  mine took me to my doctors office so I could check my PT/INR. That a blood test to see how thin your blood is. Like Robin I too have a heart valve. I have a mechanical valve, Robin had a bovine valve. But I know he, like me, he had to take warfarin.

      Before the announcement of the Parkinson's Disease we were talking about Robin we concluded that something must have happened that brought him to that point. Something beyond what we know about. He had a built in out. All he had to do is quit taking his warfarin, a blood clot would form and that's that.
       But that could take forever. But it's not that. I realized if he had done it that way, it really would be a selfish, ugly, dirty act. He would be living a lie until he died, and involving medical people in saving his life. A life he was trying to kill. That for him would be out of the question. Not even in his thinking.
      I do not believe suicide is a selfish, weak act. I believe it's a place people get to when life has sucked out every drop of ego a person has and there is nothing left. Like when a car runs out of gas, it just stops. And no amount of hand holding will make it go again until you fill up the tank. And you say to yourself what am I doing here? I'm inside this worthless person I'm sick of, and I want to get out and go somewhere else. Meet new people. Have a coke and a smile.
      Some lucky people are able to come out of that dark, dark place, others can't.
      And who's to say how suicide should be judged or categorized. Is enlisting in the military an act of attempted suicide? If you believe in the God some people do, the answer is yes.
       I think sometimes people assess suicide, or death in general to make themselves feel better. Or say things that reinforce their own beliefs rather than address the issue at hand.

      People also are naturally making the comparison between Michael J. Fox and Robin. Both are talented funny guys. However Michael"s talent doesn't require him to be an athlete. And that's what Robin was, a comic athlete.
      My question is, if it's true Parkinson's and depression go hand in hand, especially in the early stages. Did the Parkinson's in of itself bring on the depression? In other words, should someone who is diagnosed with Parkinson's be given antidepressants as a matter of course, as part of the treatment?
      If someone held my feet to the fire I would have to say there was no thought as to the method of suicide for Robin, it just happened.
      We can never know fully what's in someone else's heart and mind. Or how deep the pain goes, or where it comes from. All we can do is appreciate the life they led, and what they stood for as human beings while they were alive. And appreciate their art which stands for all time.

      There will never be another Robin Williams. But as of today there has never been another Chaplin, or a Stan Laurel, or Sid Caesar, or Richard Pryor or Chuck Jones. Yet we continue to laugh. We will always laugh. And we wait. Until the next person comes along who hits the nail so squarely and perfectly on the head that we laugh. The kind of laughter that happens when you're laughing so hard, no sound comes out.

    I want to be the next Secretary of Antics.

    by nellgwen on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 12:18:26 PM PDT

    •  Thank you for this (4+ / 0-)
      I believe it's a place people get to when life has sucked out every drop of ego a person has and there is nothing left.
      Five years on from the worst of my suicidal ideation, and I still feel empty. Not suicidal any more, but I still feel stuck. It's hard to rebuild anything when so much of what you thought you were seems to have burned to the ground.
      •  Have you tried thinking selfishly. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        not a lamb

        Or if that's the wrong thing to say then think like a child. Not childish, childlike. Eyes open and maybe doing the things you want to do without any thought to how it would look.

        I want to be the next Secretary of Antics.

        by nellgwen on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 05:51:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I get what you're saying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'm doing some things like that, just have a lot of bad habits of mind that don't lead to me sticking to anything that helps me consistently.

          Add perfectionism and avoidance to the mix and it's a wonder I get anything done. :/

          •  I mean take a boat ride. (0+ / 0-)

            Buy yourself some flowers. I'm the same way with perfection as well.
            Nothing is perfect, we all want to do a do over. But things can be the best you can make them.

            I want to be the next Secretary of Antics.

            by nellgwen on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:09:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  My heart is with you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I am so sorry for your pain.  Try everything you can to become healthy and happy.  I resisted medication for years because in my self-righteous attitude I didn't want to take "mind altering" drugs.  A doctor finally made me see how foolish that was.
        She prescribed Prozac and it was a miracle.  It saved my life.
        Please don't give up.  There is something out there that will help.  I know it sometimes gets overwhelming, but you deserve a happy life.

        •  Thanks Karen, (0+ / 0-)

          I've done rounds with meds, and if things get bad again, I'd go back to them. But mostly, I can handle myself with keeping active and picking back up some of the interests I've let slack.

          I just find doing the things I enjoy difficult to justify, when I'm rarely ever productive in the ways I need to be - like writing my damn dissertation.


    •  You could hear it (0+ / 0-)

      You could hear some of the raw pain in Robins work when he spoke about the heart valve and the other indignities of ageing.  

      You can almost hear him saying OH Fuck It when told of the Parkinsons.  Not ONE MORE THING to make him less than he could be.

      I do know there is a lot of evidence--and I personally saw this with several people in my life inc my mother--that the heart surgery ITSELF--the procedure--can alter the way their mind works.  

      Maybe the several problems ganged up on him and they won.

  •  You are not alone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maggiemad, Belle Ame

    I lost my friend and partner to suicide in June 21, 2010 - the summer solstice. He chose that day so that the day would be as bright as possible for those who were left behind to tend to him. He truly believed we would be better off without him.

    Every 16 minutes, someone commits suicide. Every 17 minutes, someone is left wondering why their loved one is gone.

    There is help. The American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide provides resources like counseling and support groups for those of us who have lost someone to suicide. If someone you know or love has committed suicide, I urge you to attend a survivors group. It really helps.

  •  This is why..... (0+ / 0-)

    I left being a religious Christian fundamentalist a long time ago. Seems they have actually little to do with the love and values of Jesus.

  •  In another post I compared it to an autoimmune (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maggiemad, not a lamb, tubacat, Ninepatch

    disease. For me at least, chronic depression really is like my mind turns on and attacks me, in the same way your immune system turns on an organ that is functioning as it should and treats it as a foreign invader.

    Most people probably experience a situational type depression, when there is a specific cause or reason. So I think that is why many think of it as something that will pass. But depression as a chronic disease can take minor occurrences and turn it into an overwhelming conviction that your life has little value or meaning. Part of your mind lies to you and messes neurologically with the functioning of other organs. It can become a vicious cycle where you feel weaker and weaker, accomplish less and less (at least in your view), and feel more and more worthless.

    Friends and family can be a source of support and  inspiration, as with any disease, but they have no more control over the progression or remission, or mortality, of this disease than they have over, for example, Multiple Sclerosis.

    The people who blame the victims of depression and suicide are ignorant idiots who can see MS as a disease but view depression as a character flaw.

    •  Excellent analogy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Belle Ame

      (depression as autoimmune disease) - and excellent description - so many have trouble understanding the difference between the 2 kinds of depression...

      "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." -Muriel Rukeyser

      by tubacat on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 12:00:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actual Overlap Of Mood Disorders and Autoimmunity (0+ / 0-)

      I saw that somewhere..... any you'll notice how many people that are bipolar also have fibromyalgia and other inflammatory problems.

      Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

      by bernardpliers on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 06:02:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I struggle to understand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maggiemad, Jilly W

    why so many people (including Rush Limbaugh) feel compelled to pass judgement on people & situations that *are not their business * they have only incidental information about *THAT only adds to the pain & complications FOR people personally involved.

    Appreciate all that Robin Williams did, was, and the legacy that he left at a great cost to himself.

    Then BACK OFF, leave his memory in peace, and his family & friends the privacy they deserve to deal with his loss!

  •  Demonizing suicide victims not right (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, not a lamb, Belle Ame, tubacat, Jilly W

    To Todd:  My heart goes out to you!  I want you to know that your above article brought tears to my eyes for its raw, naked openness and honesty!

    I have attempted to kill myself on more than one occasion - one time I actually died and had to be brought back to life by the paramedics.  Today, I am so glad to be alive and LIVING!  I have a 22-year-old-son who recently graduated (with highest honors) from college and is now working for the Missoula Children's Theatre - a traveling theatre company that works with kids around the country - teaching them the ins and outs of acting and actually putting on a performance with those kids after only a week of learning.

    On those occasions when I attempted to kill myself, I firmly believed that my family and friends would be BETTER off without me - to no longer have to stress about me and my "condition" on a constant basis.  Of course, that thinking is obviously skewed, but I wanted to share this with you and others.

    My son (and so many others) would have been devastated had I actually succeeded in killing myself!  But folks, you just don't see things clearly when you are SO depressed/hurting, that all you can think about is ending that pain for yourself and others.

    Todd:  I especially liked your remark about "truly selfish people not being willing to commit suicide because it would hurt the one they love the most - themselves!"  Many people have accused me (and my previous suicide attempts) of being very selfish, thoughtless and immature acts.  And while this may seem to be true - at first glance - it simply is NOT.  If only this situation were that simply and uncomplicated!

    However, it never hurts for people who are contemplating suicide to read true stories about people like me - who once felt so much pain that taking my life seemed to be the only viable option.  It often CAN get better.  In my case, it certainly has!  I only wish Robin Williams could have found that solution/option for himself.  He is a true one-of-a-kind artist/performer/human being - and I will miss him SO much!  Peace and affection to his family and friends.

  •  The view from the other side... (6+ / 0-)

    While I do not know exactly what Williams was thinking when he took his life I can understand something of what he went through. I have been dealing with severe depression for a very long time. When I was a teen I tried to commit suicide but I panicked and a neighbor took me to the hospital.

    The depression distorts how you see and feel about things--it "whispers" in your ear and you feel like killing yourself is the only option you have. You fantasize about different ways to do yourself in--I too have considered hanging myself. Little things can be magnified and can send you into that dark place. More serious problems can make life very grim. This is not a simple escape, it is the only option that you feel you have left. If it was possible for those who laugh to get a small taste of this despair--just for a short time--perhaps they would shut up about all of this selfishness. We want to be free of this darkness. We want to be more happy. We want to see more of the sun in our lives but the depression distorts all of that. I have no idea how I have stayed alive for so long but it has been a fight. A loving wife, a good therapist, and good medication helps. Even with all of that I can still fall back down and start to think that death is the only option.

    I have also read that Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson's and I too know how that feels. Around two years ago I noticed that my slight shakiness was more that just nerves--it reached the point were I was suffering severe tremors in my left side--especially in my left arm. Since I am left-handed, this was even more difficult with me. I was referred to a neurologist and was initially diagnosed with idiopathic progressive polyneuropathy. Recently, he told me it was Parkinson's Disease. Even before I was given that recent diagnosis of PD I knew I had a degenerative condition--the progressive part of the IPN--and I knew that PD was a strong candidate. The mere thought that my brain was now degenerating sent me into a death spiral. My wife was terrified at what I would do to myself--she was right since I was getting ready to go. It was at this time, after several years if trying to get help, that I was finally able to get a therapist and get some help. With someone to talk to and good medication, I was able to pull out enough to keep on going.

    I am doing better but better is not cured. As I said before, I still can fall into that pit. I do have to "take life one day at a time." I still struggle but the help I have is just enough to keep me going.

    Selfish? No, it is the depression telling you that it's the only option you have left. You want to be pulled out of that place but you don't know how and it hurts too much to go on.

  •  Very well stated, Todd. It does make me rethink (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, Belle Ame

    that long-held myth that suicide is the supreme act of selfishness. That no longer rings true with me. Thank you.

  •  The truest thing you said... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, Belle Ame

    ...was that "it's not cut and dry."

    My great-grandmother committed suicide in the grips of an attack of acute paranoia brought on by taking some expired medication (at least according to the family understanding.)  She'd never been known to have paranoid attacks, but her final message to the family was that she was killing herself because if she didn't, "they" were going to kill her family ("they," of course, being the Shadowy Other).

    On the swing side, my father threatened suicide for the express purpose of getting a reaction from my mother during an argument they were having prior to their divorce.

    You're absolutely right that depression changes people, puts them into a hole that some of them can't get out of.  I've been there, though perhaps oddly it was my contrary nature that always kept me from seriously considering suicide.  My refrain was always "Not going to give the [redacted] the satisfaction."

    I think the only cases where suicide is truly selfish is when it's committed by somebody trying to avoid the consequences of their actions, or somebody who is intentionally trying to hurt others.

    Williams was neither, and I only hope that he's at peace now, whatever haunted him.

  •  Thanks for posting this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Belle Ame, tubacat

    I lost a friend to suicide.  It's important that people understand that depression is a disease, not some sort of character flaw.  My friend was killed by an illness, the same as if he'd died of cancer.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 05:31:57 PM PDT

  •  Thank you. That was beautifully written and I'm... (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you. That was beautifully written and I'm sorry for your loss. I come from a family with a long history of suicide.

    •  Some one--- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Some one should be gathering up this info on suicidal families and working with it.  I have at least five  generations--pretty sure there are more---where direct matrilineal relatives have committed suicide.  

      And others who have tried and not succeeded.

      I watch myself and my kids very closely for symptoms of depression but who knows if I can count on catching them all.

      I have wondered if coming from a family where suicide was "common"  makes it "easier" for the next person to do--after all the world didn't end if "Aunt Susie"  used Illuminating Gas;  or if "Cousin Doris" locked herself in a garage with a running car;  or if Mom tried by throwing herself off the roof.   Easier to justify I mean.  

      Sort of a macabre family tradition.

      And yes it DOES leave shattered lives and devastation in its wake.  It's hard to form proper bonds if you grow up thinking that any one can leave you by CHOICE at any time.  And to always be thinking--did I have anything to do with this decision?

  •  From a suicide's daughter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Todd Farally

    I can add nothing to your beautiful post. Nothing needs to be said that you haven't already said in a poignant and truthful way.

    So, I will simply say bravo, your words are powerful and true. Thank you for sharing them with me. It reminds me I am not alone in this journey of surviving.


    "When injustice becomes law, defiance becomes duty." Bill Moyers

    by Ninepatch on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 05:58:12 AM PDT

  •  depression and suicide (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this article.  I don't understand people who would add to family and friends' grief by attacking them.  I think I know the reason people don't recognize depression and try to help people.  When I was suffering from deep depression I did everything in my power to pretend I was fine.  I had discovered that people are bewildered by depressed people and eventually they want to get away from them because they don't know what to do.  So we wear ourselves out acting a part.  Fortunately I found help in medication.  But they don't help everyone.
    We have learned so much about clinical depression, you would think that people would be more compassionate.  But, unfortunately, those who have never experienced it cannot possibly know how it feels.  It's not simply sadness, it is a physical pain.  It is an ache worse than any headache, in the middle of your body and drugs or booze temporarily dull it, but the next day it's back again.
    Robin Williams deserved to live a happy, pain free life, but the sad reality is that treatments just don't work for some people.  And we have no right to blame or attack the person's family and friends.  They may have tried hard, but some times the real tragedy is that there is nothing anyone can do.
    R.I.P. Robin Williams.  If there is a heaven I hope you found your peace there and you are making the angels smile.

  •  Suicide is not painless (0+ / 0-)

    I think I know why certain people actually gloat when a celebrity or someone well-known commits suicide. Pleasure. Certain people actually feel pleasure at another's death, even if it's someone they never met, didn't know or was entirely inoffensive. Call it schadenfruede if you like, it's still a pleasurable feeling for these poor sick bastards when someone else dies by their own hand.

    I witnessed some of this in 1961 from my father when Hemingway shot himself. "Good!" my father grinned, not nicely. "About time he did that."

    "But I thought you liked him, " I said. The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls was on his bookshelf. I'd read the first but not the other.

    "Goddamn coward," my father grunted. He wasn't looking at me as I recall, but out the window instead. "He deserved to die!"

    I don't know how or why, but I could feel a kind of envious resentment pouring from my dad. He confirmed this by saying, "Bastard had anything he wanted and then goes and pisses it all away! F*** 'im!" He stalked out of the room, all stiff righteousness and inflexibility. Military officers are like that.

    Some of us envy others who are well-known and in the media. They think: "what's that SOB got that I don't? How is it he gets all the money and the babes and the action and I get nothin'? That's not fair!" So they cheer when someone famous dies. It balances things, in their minds. It's delayed justice. It's bad karma finally catching up because bad karma is always due to having much while others have nothing. Or so goes the thinking in the heads of too many people who should know better.

    Which is why we get trolls on the 'Net sneering and cackling and gloating and doing their best to provoke a fight. Like any bully, they take every opportunity to squeeze some pleasure out of another's agony. The world is unfair, you see, because these poor sick bastards can't have what they want, which apparently is everything.

    Ignore them. This is the last time I will ever mention non-humans who enjoy the suffering of others. For example: Gene Simmons who boasted that he would yell "JUMP!" to someone standing on the edge. I suggest that we simply not engage, not respond, not comment, and not give these non-humans what they want, which is an outlet for their rage and envy and sick hatred. Let them strangle in their own vile juices, I say, and good riddance!

    (Gee, somehow that sounds familiar...)    


  •  List Of Famous Suicide Survivors (0+ / 0-)

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 06:03:15 PM PDT

  •  For too many depression is not a temporary problem (0+ / 0-)

    The greatest lie that gets repeated is "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

    For many who suffer real depression, the state of being depressed is not temporary, it is ongoing - and for many, it is the only state of living they know.   They don't view it as a temporary problem, they begin to view it as the realities of their life.

    Either the meds don't work to help well enough, the circumstances are too mentally exhausting, etc.

    People commit suicide for a variety of reasons, and they are all terrible.   But we have to come to understand why it happens rather than simply blame everyone around and refuse to understand why people act as they do, in hopes of helping others.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle
    >Follow @tmservo433

    by Chris Reeves on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 08:44:15 PM PDT

  •  Also the child of a parent who committed suicide, (0+ / 0-)

    I hear my own thoughts throughout this posting.  After 59 years, I have come to an acceptance of sorts, though I don't believe understanding will ever be possible.  When I heard of Robin Williams' death, I thought of his wife, and especially of the personal assistant who discovered his body.  Even typing this, my whole body aches for them, and my spirit would embrace them.  I did not know til now that just knowing he shared the planet with us all made my spirit light.  As for the mouthpieces who belittle him and us, they are best discounted and ignored.  Only those who are equally bereft of empathy would agree with them.
    It may be that the vitriol Limbaugh spews on others is left over from that in which he bathes himself, in private.  He is to be pitied.

  •  I think first, of this: (0+ / 0-)

    "Only those can understand us who ate from the same bowl with us."
    This quotation begins Volume 2 of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago.

    Don't dare judge, pigeonhole, dismiss, presume to know, anyone's life, anyone's reasons, anyone's suffering, in cases like this. You can try to learn, to understand, but you did not eat from the same bowl and no, you do not understand. This is not just an admonition for those that would judge, but a reality, perhaps a comfort, for those left behind. We are not helpless, and it is not fate, but in the end sometimes they are in a place we cannot reach.  

    I never understood the opprobrium for those that commit suicide. We don't know the pain they suffered, how alone they felt, what may have happened to them in life. Leave them in peace - you are still alive, why should you insult them, hate them?

    Bold at inappropriate times. Mediocre at best.

    by steep rain on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 06:58:26 AM PDT

  •  rage at the dead (0+ / 0-)

    One of the things I've observed in reactions to news of a suicide: rage at the dead, contempt for them, disparagement

    I've never understood.

    The most likable theory I've heard is that the anger is at the killer - and there is that cognitive dissonance that the killer and victim are one and the same.

    I'm not convinced.

    But the rage response is common.

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