A Greater Perception of Depression

Before I work on some fiction, I want to contribute a few of my own thoughts to the milieu following Robin Williams’ death.

Like so many others, I am saddened by his passing.  I never met him, but I have many memories involving him.  I wish that he hadn’t suffered such depression.  The world is darker without his light.

Beyond the grief, I’ve been watching the news with both optimism and dread.  My news feed has delivered a number of articles to me regarding Robin Williams’ suicide, and I’ve been hoping that his death will be handled with simple sadness and respect.  The one thing that I’ve been afraid of is stumbling on a story where someone besmirches Mr. Williams’ for the method of his death.

There’s been a little bit of it.  Thanks, Fox News.  Stay classy.

For the most part, though, his death has been handled as a tragedy.  So far, there hasn’t been the blustering, holier-than-thou, accusatory vindictiveness that I half expected around a suicide.

In other words, the through-line hasn’t been, “He took his own life, hurting those that loved him.  What a selfish asshole.” Instead, it has been, “Robin Williams succumbed to his depression, an illness as difficult and dangerous as cancer.”

I’m pleased with the reaction to Robin Williams’ suicide.  I wish that it hadn’t happened, but if anything can be salvaged from this difficult event, it can be a greater perception surrounding depression.

Depression isn’t weakness.  It isn’t laziness, or something a person can just “shake off.” It’s an illness, every bit as serious as a broken leg or a viral infection.  Perhaps it’s worse, because it can be invisible and insidious.  Left untreated, it can be just as deadly as leukemia.

If we cannot erase his suicide and bring him back to life, then maybe we can learn from it.  Maybe we can be a little less hesitant to seek help for those in our life that are suffering from depression.  Maybe we can be a little bit more respectful of those that are facing such an illness, and treat the depression with the seriousness it deserves.