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Honoring Robin Williams’ Legacy

on August 20, 2014

Robin Williams Quote

The suicide of Robin Williams has hit us all hard, in uniquely personal ways. It is very difficult to come to grips with the fact that this brilliantly talented, exceedingly kind and caring, and downright funny man had so much pain within him that he no longer wanted to live.

Horrible Statistics

Many people have experienced the kind of deep depression that led Robin to believe that suicide was his only alternative. Indeed, 15 percent of people diagnosed with clinical depression commit suicide, and multiples of that number make failed attempts to take their own lives. Thankfully, only a small percentage of suicide attempts are successful. Still, more than 30,000 Americans take their own lives each year, though more than 800,000 people try to kill themselves. By most accounts, there are at least 4.5 million suicide survivors in the United States today.  Depression is very real, and very debilitating.  In fact, the World Health Organization says depression is the #1 disability in the world.  Further, it is known that depression is one of the prime risk factors for suicide.

Personal Experiences

I personally know someone that committed suicide, and you probably do as well.  What both of us probably do not know is how many other people that we know have tried to take their own lives.  How many of those wounded people are your brothers, sisters, cousins, or friends? Or your children? Even worse, because of the stigma surrounding depression, many people who attempt suicide have never sought the professional help which could allow them to feel better.

How many people do you know that are depressed, right this very minute? Lost a partner? Lost a job? Addicted to drugs or alcohol? These can all be triggers for depression or suicide, and we all need to be more aware and more vigilant. Yes, we all need to be our “brother’s keeper” to some extent and reach out to those we think need it, and especially to encourage those who are depressed to get help.JK Rowling

What We Can All Do

Treatment works! Studies have shown that 80 percent of depressed patients are successfully treated, when they seek help, and that therapy and medication can effectively prevent many suicides.

Education and awareness are critical. Know the signs of depression and how to help. We can all learn a lot more and reach out far more often.

As J.K. Rowling points out, we have different moods, and sadness is a normal reaction when life is a struggle; but depression is much more than temporary sadness. People with depression often describe “living in a black hole”, being apathetic, feeling empty. Teenagers that are depressed often express it as irritability rather than sadness. Men might be inclined to act aggressive and angry.

Regardless, depression engulfs a person’s entire life, interfering with eating, working, sleeping, studying, or having fun. The feelings of helplessness are intense and do not let up.  If someone you care about seems extremely depressed, especially if there has been a trigger event– a painful loss, event or change– be extra vigilant with these signs. These are all serious cries for help– do not ignore them! If you feel that someone is depressed, talk with them and encourage them to see a doctor for help.

  • Talk about killing himself or wanting to die.
  • Searching online for suicide methods, buying large quantities of pills or a gun.
  • Talk of feeling trapped and in pain, or a burden to others.
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use.
  • Sleeping pattern changes– too little or too much.
  • Extreme mood swings, unexplained rage.
  • Loss of interest in people and things.
  • Giving away possessions.

Robin’s Legacy 

If there is one thing that we have all learned from the Robin Williams tragedy it is that it’s hard to see someone else’s pain– and that we need to do a better job of it! All reports say that neither his wife nor his personal assistant had any clue what was to come, according to TMZ. A colleague that talked to him just the day before mentioned that they had a normal conversation with him…but also stated that Robin “lived in a dark place.” What if that conversation had turned into a more caring conversation, or his colleague had come over to check on him, or called his wife to tell her that he seemed really unhappy and out of sorts? Maybe, or maybe not. Unfortunately, we’ll never know if it would have made a difference in this case.

To be sure, Robin has left us with an amazing lifetime of work to make us laugh. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if another part of Robin’s Legacy was that his death led us to all help prevent as much suicide and heartache as possible, and ensure that every. single. person. knows that there is help available…and there is HOPE?

Always keep Robin’s words in mind: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”  Let’s change the world!

More Info and Resources: 

Helpguide: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm

American Association of Suicidology: http://www.suicidology.org/

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education: http://www.save.org 

National Council for Suicide Prevention: http://www.ncsponline.org/


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45 Responses to “Honoring Robin Williams’ Legacy”

  1. Paula Kiger says:

    Great post, and every single time I see someone saying “if we had only known” about Robin Williams, it is sad … and makes me think of my brother in law who committed suicide. A lot of the key (to me) is not stigmatizing depression – it should be as acceptable to say “I am struggling with depression” as it is to say “wow this sinus headache is painful today.” Thanks for what you shared!

    • Denise Gabbard says:

      Exactly! That is the biggest problem— people feel that they have to “hide” that they are feeling depressed. Here’s hoping that will begin to change.

  2. Sarah Bailey says:

    Fantastic post – it amazes me that in this day and age so many people are still naive to what depression is and how it does kill people. Sometimes I think we shouldn’t say it is suicide as the person didn’t choose rationally to kill themselves – they are killed by depression. x

  3. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    It’s so sad about Robin Williams, but hopefully this brings some awareness to others that are silently suffering.

  4. Terry says:

    Robin is going to be so missed by many of his fans… myself included. I hope this makes people more aware of issues like this.

  5. Heather says:

    This is so heartbreaking still. I wish people would realize that depression is an illness.

  6. Liz Mays says:

    It’s so hard to know that someone is unhappy enough to take that step. I certainly hope the awareness helps people suffering reach out for help.

  7. He was a gifted actor, and I will remember him as such. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Such an important topic, and Robin Williams’ words are so true. We need to keep talking about this so people will finally be able to ask for and receive the help they need.

  9. This is a subject very near and dear to my heart. I have lost close family friends to suicide over the years one within the last year. My friend Author Katie Paul recently started a fb group called Not Waving, Drowning that I have become involved in. I advertise it on my blog every single day. Great advice.

  10. paula schuck says:

    I know someone who committed suicide as well. I think we all do. It’s imperative we all pay attention when we see the signs around us that someone might be struggling with this devastating mental illness.

  11. This is such a beautiful post! He touched so many lives, and so can we!

  12. coolchillmom says:

    it is so sad, beautiful though to see how he keeps helping peopel even when gone

    thanks for hte improtant resources you share

  13. I was very sad to hear of his passing. He brought a lot of joy and happiness to so many people over the years.

  14. Nolie says:

    Depression is very scary. I wish there was more support available and widely known.

  15. Jennifer Williams says:

    I have known a couple people that have unfortunately taken their own lives. It is a horrible tragedy and nobody can truly understand the amount of pain they are experiencing to make them think this is the only way to handle it.

  16. Chrissy Mazzocchi says:

    I have struggled with depression before and I now have GAD. It’s not something easy to live with and you can’t just snap out of it. It goes to show you no matter how happy someone may appear on the outside, you neer know what is going through their mind.

    • Denise Gabbard says:

      I have too, Chrissy, and believe me, I KNOW. I am sure that GAD is tough to deal with as well– but I am glad that you are openly talking about it, because I believe that it does help. I am here anytime you need to vent :)

  17. I was really sad to hear that he had passed because he was my favorite actor of all time. No one was funnier than Robin Williams.

  18. Tami says:

    One of my friends committed suicide at nineteen years old. We never knew she was suffering so much. You never know what people are going through and I think we really need to make a conscious effort to be more gentler and kinder to each other because you never know.

    • Denise Gabbard says:

      One of our friends did as well– and I still do not understand all that drove her to do it. She had a messed-up home life, but it was over at that point.

  19. April says:

    You are so right! There are so many more people who have had the suicidal thoughts and/or failed attempts. It’s sad and it’s hard because you don’t know. Great resources.

  20. I think all of those ways are good ways to determine if somebody is depressed, but I think those that truly want to commit suicide, do so without alerting others.

  21. Ben - Gentlebim says:

    He seemed like such a cool guy, and he was genuinely loved by the masses. It’s a shame when someone can feel so totally alone in a sea of well wisher. Tragic.

  22. Ronnie says:

    I really enjoyed Robin Williams. Such a shame that he was hiding depression. My friend’s father ended his life the same way. Depression is something that needs to be spoken about and recognized.

  23. Pam says:

    It is very sad. It is sad that in death you find out what a truly remarkable man he was. I have read a lot of heart warming stories regarding his reaching out and helping many people.

  24. Carmen Perez says:

    So sad to hear about Robin Williams. Depression is a real problem that many people do not know how to deal with.

  25. Melanie S. says:

    It’s such a sad story. With more awareness, hopefully tragedies like this will be prevented in the future.

  26. So very sad, I’ll never understand. I’m so glad there is help out there for those who need it, and I have heard so many new stories about Robin Williams I never heard before, truly touching.

  27. Melissa Smith says:

    Too many times we think we should have known or done something to help. But the truth is that there’s always such a facade put up, that we have no clue how serious the situation is.

  28. Theresa says:

    If Robin’s death did anything, it really brought attention to depression. I am glad to see more people talking about it and making others feel not so alone since his passing.

  29. Rosey says:

    I imagine it is stifling to be so engulfed. It’s so hard to understand when you know the person is so loved. Awareness helps, I’m sure.

  30. Alice Chase says:

    It is difficult to understand sometimes but knowing that this affects so many ages, economic demographics, and genders makes it so important to be kinder to one another. You never know what someone else is going through.

  31. Amber Nelson says:

    It is so sad that Robin Williams took his own life. Great awareness post.

  32. Melissa says:

    His story just breaks my heart…I wonder if he shared his depression with others. I wonder if he called out for help and didnt get it. Just a horrible loss.

  33. I agree that treatment works. But I also know how hard it can be to take those first steps to get help.

    • Denise Gabbard says:

      It is absolutely challenging, but if you know someone who needs help–push them to help themselves with all your being.

  34. Love is the antidote for all pain. Love can fill voids, turn sadness to gladness, and bring hope to what once seemed hopeless. Robin Williams will be missed – and I am sure he was loved, but I’m not sure he knew.

    • Denise Gabbard says:

      Yes, that’s exactly my thoughts as well. If he could see the devastation left in his void, he might have made a different choice.

  35. Chene @Prototype Mama says:

    I hate to hear this about Robin Williams– He was such a great actor.

  36. Robin William quote there is definitely something to live by.

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