The (Kill)-Joys of #Suicide and Living with a #MentalIllness #RIPRobinWilliams #MentalHealth

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

 – Robin Williams, July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014.

Today, as I was having dinner with my mom, I received four text messages from some friends. I read the first one: “ROBIN WILLIAMS COMMITTED SUICIDE.” I thought it was a Twitter hoax. There is no way Mr. Williams, a man who had brought so much joy to everyone’s life could have taken his own life. It just makes no sense.

Robin WIlliams Roles

Robin Williams: the multi-faceted and multi-talented actor/comedian I grew up loving.

I quickly flipped through the other three texts: “#RIPROBINWILLIAMS,” “Kittu I think my bf is cheating on me” and “DUDE ROBIN WILLIAMS IS DEAD.” So that was three telling me what I didn’t want to hear and one that I could handle in a jiffy. It just made no sense. And then things started to fall into place the more I thought about it.

First of all, suicide ideation (having thoughts of suicide) is one of those things that alienates the person feeling it. They feel all alone. That no one can understand the pain and suffering they have internalized. They feel that if they talk about it they can be viewed as weak and attention-seeking. And when it comes to celebrities, many times they are even more afraid to reach out to receive the help they need due to the attention it would receive. I recently read somewhere that Nicki Minaj was scared to call an ambulance one time when she was in a life-threatening situation because of what she thought TMZ would write. And I can sit here in my hotel room and tell you that it’s so sad that these people can’t even do normal things or at least get the aid they actually need, but then I also know that if Nicki (or in this case Robin) were to have called an ambulance (or a crisis hotline), I would be tempted to invade their privacy when they’re most vulnerable and watch/listen to the leaked footage of her or him receiving the help they need.

Robin playing one of my all-time favorite roles of his: Genie from Aladdin.

Side note: I have always hated TMZ, Perez Hilton and all of those other sites for their invasive journalistic tactics and would condemn them for their actions, I know that they will keep doing so because people want to know about that information. It is a sad, sad world we live in.

Another side step – Similar to this (people receiving the care and help they need), I remember back when I used to watch “The Soup” in high school, Joel McHale did something that made me respect him and the show: when Britney Spears was facing her own demons, he gave her a free pass to not be discussed negatively on the show during her trying time. I really liked that he and the producers did that. To me, it showed that while they were a show that thrived on kicking people when they were down, they took it only so far and would actually keep their journalistic integrity when the situation of mental illness or another life-threatening disease surfaced with a celebrity. But, alas, this type of “free pass” does not really exist at places like Perez or TMZ.

So, back to the matter at hand: Robin Williams. A man who brought so many smiles to others’ faces but was truly sad inside, so much so that his publicist released a statement that he was battling with severe depression.

As you can see in the graphic above, 1 in 10 Americans suffer from some sort of depression. Most of those who do suffer from it never report their feelings to their doctors due to their own feelings regarding how society will view them. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma associated with mental illness. This stigma is a leading factor as to why many Americans do not receive the treatment they desperately need. And one of the leading causes of suicide is depression. They say that someone attempts suicide every 25 seconds in the US. And others have to deal with the aftermath every 26 seconds. In addition, research has been found stating that most of those who attempt suicide immediately regret their actions, trying to reach out for a way to stop their attempt (all things I learned while training with the BRCIC).

These past two months, I have been volunteering and interning at a psychiatric ward and at the Baton Rouge Crisis and Intervention Center, where I’ve learned more about how mental illness can affect not only the person afflicted with the disease, but also the community and environment of that person. These are usually people who have undergone much trauma and negativity and just don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Coping-wise, these people don’t know how to deal with the problems they are facing daily and believe that taking one’s life will solve everything. They don’t realize the extent to which their actions of taking or attempting to take their lives will affect themselves and those around them. They can’t see how things will get better. And they usually have no one who is willing to listen to them. And the really sad part is that this type of situation is so common – most of the time these people cannot even afford counselor, doctor/psychiatrist or other medical fees, they feel like no one really cares about their situation. I have seen/talked to so many patients that deteriorate their own mental capacities due to the pressures they place on themselves.

The bottom line is this: taking your own life is NEVER the answer. Remember that there are people whose lives would never be the same without you. If you are at all having thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-273-TALK. Taking your life is a very serious decision. And is often not the only option to end the suffering and sadness that surrounds you.

I just really wish someone had told this to Genie before he decided to take his own life. The galaxy is missing one of it’s brightest stars tonight. Please don’t forget to pray for Robin’s soul and his family. And take some time to appreciate the legacy that is Robin Williams – he provided us with so much happiness, the least we can do is honor him now. Here is a link to his most memorable roles.

Robin Williams laughing and having a good time. How I will choose to remember him. Rest in peace, buddy. The suffering is over now.