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Once again, the world has lost one of its brightest lights.

And once again, amid the reactions of shock and sadness, are the voices of idiots.

Like many others, I was deeply saddened when I heard of Robin Williams’ untimely death. I was even sadder when I learned that he died of depression.

Can anyone imagine the depths of despair one has to be in to take such drastic action? As I read more and more posts and comments, I’m beginning to realize that if you haven’t been there, you just don’t understand.

The comment that angers me most is the one that claims suicide is a choice. “Depression doesn’t kill you like leukaemia,” wrote one blogger, roughly paraphrased. “It doesn’t put a gun in your hand. You always have a choice.”

That would be true if clinical depression wasn’t a mental illness.

A mental illness, in case anyone doesn’t know, screws with your mind. People who take their own lives due to depression, crippling anxiety, or any other mental illness, do so because they think they don’t have a choice.

They honestly believe the world would be better off without them. And even if they don’t believe that, they’re in too much misery and pain to get out of bed in the morning.

Many of us have thought about suicide in our darkest moments. Maybe we’ve even come up with a plan or seriously considered it. Maybe something or someone intervened at the last minute, and we managed to survive another day. And maybe that lets some of us believe that people like Robin “chose” to end their lives, just as we chose not to.

This is akin to comparing apples and oranges. If you were able to choose not to, your pit of despair wasn’t as deep, wasn’t as dark. You were able to climb out of it with a little help. But not everyone is so lucky. That still doesn’t make it a choice.

Saying suicide is a choice trivializes the overwhelming pain and despair. It also hurts the suicide victim’s loved ones, who are already suffering. No one needs to hear that the person they love most in the world chose to leave them.

Robin had six decades to develop coping mechanisms for his depression, and for being bipolar. If he could have figured out a way to survive, I’m sure he would have. I’m sure he tried everything.

When will the world realize that depression is an evil disease? That it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and that those who lose the fight are not selfish or weak. They’re casualties in a war many people still don’t understand.

But more than that, they are people who loved, laughed, and made an impact on the world–in a big way, like Robin, or in a smaller but no-less-meaningful way, like my friend Stan.

Please don’t add to the pain and suffering of Robin’s family and friends.

It wasn’t a choice.

If it was, he’d still be here.

Rest in peace, Robin.

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14 Comments

  1. Crystal

    Over the past few days I have been very selective about what I read regarding this tragedy. Even then, your post is one of the few that relate to how I feel about the whole topic and situation.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thank you, Crystal. I’m glad what I said resonated with you. I wasn’t sure that I should write about it, but when I get angry, I write.

      Hugs.

      Reply
  2. Frank Powers

    I’ll post my own reply on my blog. I understand if you don’t wish to speak to me again after I post it.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      I can have a difference of opinion with someone and still speak to them, Frank, but in this case, it’s probably best that I don’t read it.

      All I ask is that you consider carefully who you may be hurting before you post. I’m not suggesting censorship, but what benefit does it have to say something that hurts the loved ones left behind? Or increases the stigma against mental illness? Just think about it, please. There’s enough hatred and negativity out there right now.

      Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      I understand your anger now, Frank. It is completely justified, and even though I don’t agree with your views, I respect your right to have them. I’m so sorry for what happened to your family.

      It’s always terrible to lose someone that way. I don’t think anyone ever gets over it.

      Reply
  3. Stephanie Faris

    Yeah, I’ve winced at a few things I’ve read. One thing I notice as I look through the posts is that people are trying to make this all, “Look at me.” He died…I don’t know why people feel the need to give their thoughts on it, especially if they know nothing about depression. And they certainly don’t know whether or not he was being treated, was on medication, had asked for help, etc. Everyone assumes he was doing none of that, but people who have depression commit suicide while undergoing treatment and on medication all the time.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      I don’t know either, Stephanie. There’s something about suicide that really brings out the worst in people…it’s one of the last things a lot of people seem to feel okay being judgmental about. I really don’t get it either.

      I haven’t been in a place as dark as his, but I’ve known people who have. I can speak from that experience, but that’s it. Thanks for your comment. <3

      Reply
  4. Mystic_Mom

    So well said. There is a time when even the those with the strongest wills and strongest faiths have reached the point of ‘no other choice’. Suicide and depression – what a torturous disease to convince you that your death is the best thing for those who love you most. A wormy lie that tangles up the brightest minds. So sad for Robin, his family and all other families who have lost loved ones.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks for your comment, MM. I completely agree, and appreciate your kind, sympathetic words…always.

      Reply
  5. Steven

    I’ve kept away from comment boards on the whole thing, but I did happen to see a certain pundit saying that it was Williams’ political leanings that led him to depression, etc. Some people can be so incredibly inhumane to the point I almost wonder if they are human anymore. All I can think of about the situation is how tragic it is, especially for his family he left behind. My kids heard about it and asked me why someone would kill themselves, and that led to an interesting and productive conversation on the subject. Hopefully people keep talking instead of just moving on to the next outrageous thing Kim and Kanye do.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      I know, Steven–I feel the same. I was so sad when I heard Robin’s daughter Zelda had to close her social media accounts because of the cruel comments she was getting.

      I’m glad you were able to use this tragic situation as an opportunity to have a good talk with your children. Perhaps the next generation will feel differently about mental illness. I certainly hope so.

      Kim and Kanye who? 😉

      Reply
  6. Susan Scott

    Hi Holli, just tidying my computer stopped in at yours again and dismayed not to see my comment up .. never mind.Your piece on this is clear and succinct; suicide is the way out of no choice. People do trivialise it by saying it is a choice ..

    Reply

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