Robin Williams


Robin Williams

Talbot Hall | Opinion Editor

When I chose to write about the tragic death of Robin Williams, the first notion to bubble in my mind was the fear that my writing would have little to no impact as I could say nothing that had not already been said, and said better.

If you’ve visited Facebook over the course of the last week, you’ve undoubtedly noticed articles, pictures, tributes, and theories pertaining to the death of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams.

Some see his suicide as the tragic product of a merciless battle with depression, others criticize the nature of mental illness, arguing that his choice was a conscious decision regardless of his state of mind, and should be treated like any other misguided mistake.

Then there are the peacemakers; those who encourage mourning, compassion, and empathy for those affected by the loss, regardless of the cause of death.

I agree with the latter group.

Sympathy for the unspeakable loss experienced most by Williams’ loved ones, but also by the world, is the fiber that composes our nation during tragedy. Sympathy is empathy and compassion expressed. Equally important are our internal feelings and the mode by which we choose to convey them.

But, as a battler of depression, my heart breaks without inhibition for the loss of Mr. Williams. To those who argue that his was a conscious choice and therefore deserving of less grief, I say that to be conscious while enduring clinical depression is hardly distinguishable from unconsciousness. Anyone who has ever consumed alcohol knows that to be conscious is not to be lucid. And I assure you, depression can be every bit as intoxicating.

Imagine standing on a ledge, of any height, preparing to jump. There is a moment, always, between staring at the ground and falling towards it. This moment has always been one of enormous mystery to me. In hindsight, I’ve never been able to discern any clear thoughts from that millisecond that bode me jump. I certainly never said “this is when I will abandon my fear and jump, despite the fact that I’ve been unable to do so for the past 20 seconds.” In that moment of strange, foreign, almost supernatural choice lives suicide.

I cannot speak to any individual’s pain except for my own. But I trust enough in a benevolent, compelling universal consciousness to guess that Robin Williams, at one moment, found himself in the trenches of despair, fear, and hopelessness, and in the next moment was lost to us. What occurred in the interim is something we can never understand, much less judge.

Rest in peace, Robin.