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.