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.