Suicide? Selfish?

I have watched the frenzy that has followed the suicide of a well loved, good guy, comedian. Robin Williams death rocked many people and it has polarized people in their reactions. Essentially, it comes down to mental illness versus choosing selfishness. While I still do not fully understand mental illness, I have grown through losing people close to me to suicide. Robin William’s death at his own hand is heartbreaking because it always goes to the choice of choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem and the choice to end life when so many people want life, but lose theirs far too soon. It is easy to point fingers and to judge, however, Robin Williams was like all of us, he wore masks to hide the pain. In a moment of pain and most likely in the thought processes of not wanting to hurt those the closest to him, he chose an unfixable act—to cause himself pain vs. those who loved him.

I am not saying that it is logical thought, but he certainly fit the demographics of the fastest growing age for suicide. Males 50-59 (yes, he was just outside of this range). Men this age often feel socially isolated EVEN if they are surrounded by people. Consider for a moment. All of us in our youth have multiple opportunities to make friends and maintain friendships through school and sports. As the years go by, men in particular isolate by making their circles smaller and smaller. Many men develop a circle of one—a spouse. What happens when the body slam is the spouse or the perceived loss of a spouse. Additionally, men of this age usually go through what we women go through earlier—a crisis of body image. While women make peace with their bodies in their 50’s, men often hit a crisis of self doubt as their body and physical skills start to decline. It has been widely reported that Robin Williams had heart surgery. They also can very successful and have many shallow connections, yet often those that hide behind that humor and all is well are hiding pain and feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Like people of all ages, people can contemplate suicide for a long time and in a moment of crisis feel that there is no one to talk to about what is going on. If the loss is so great (remember, it is individual perception) that they feel that they cannot let the “real” thoughts out, the individual may feel trapped, in pain, and they may even recognize the pain they are causing others. Yes, Robin Williams had substance abuse problems. Did that play into his death? Even if there are traces of drugs or alcohol, I posit that those drugs and alcohol were an attempt to self-medicate and to feel good—feel normal. When it seems like everyone around you is normal and that the people around you only like the masks that cause a person to behave the way they do (humor, military bearing, etc), the self-medication may help the conflicted person forget, dull the pain, or even feel better. I am not saying that it is a normal response;I am saying that the thought schema is conflicted.

Robin Williams loved his family, and he recognized his missteps, but some where he came to see no end to his pain. Men often do not feel that they can get help without the stigma of being weak. While Robin did get help, he may have felt he was losing more than what he had. He talked of getting help and being in a good place, yet the signs were there. He had lost a lot of weight, he looked beaten, and he looked tired. In fatigue, people make choices that they wouldn’t make in a well-rested lucid state. People commented that he didn’t seem like himself. Could they have rescued him? I don’t know. I once had a friend who tried repeatedly until she was successful in her 20’s. She had family and friends that loved her, but she just didn’t see beyond her pain and the pain she thought she caused all of us. In her own mind, her death was not selfish but an act of love so she didn’t let anyone else down. While many of us reached out and loved her, her pain consumed her. Did that make her less of a person? No. I came to see the tender heart she had and I came to understand the depths of her pain led her to acts that I cannot fathom. I do not have to agree with the choice made in the pit of internal hell, and while I hope that I can see another person’s pain and change the course of fate, my sole responsibility is to love and forgive all. I make different choices, but like all of us, I am flawed. I choose to love and forgive.

Robin Williams and those in my life gone far too soon due to suicide, your life mattered. Until we meet again.

You know, while this has never been my issue, I have had people close to me try to commit suicide and I have had some related and not related that were close that did kill themselves. I think that in the moment they can see no other way to end the pain. I don’t think that it is a decision to hurt those left behind as much as it is that they cannot see any other way to stop feeling so bad or hurting others. My heart simply bleeds for those that loved him. This was not their fault.


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