It’s been mere minutes since I learned about the death of Robin Williams, which is reportedly a suicide, but I have the chills. The last time I reacted this way to the death of a celebrity was with the death of Whitney Houston, who was a major part of my childhood growing up. Whitney represented my childhood in so many ways, predominantly with my love for “I Will Always Love You” blasting on my boombox as a bedtime melody, but Robin Williams represented a different part of my childhood: he represented the loss of my innocence.
With Mrs. Doubtfire, I first learned about the concept of divorce and love going wrong.
With Patch Adams, I learned about childhood cancers, the concept of murder, and even gynecologists.
Years later, with Dead Poets Society, I learned what it meant to be a teacher, as well as the impact one’s suicide can have on others.
Robin’s publicist issued the following statement not too long ago:
“Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”
I have no doubt in my mind that a lot of suicide-and-depression-awareness posts are about to pop up on the internet, and I agree that you should reach out if you’re struggling to get through anything from everyday living to bigger deals. Depression and suicide aren’t black and white, and there won’t be answers, just confusion. But you know what? Not everybody is a suicide expert.
Nonetheless, I keep thinking of a quote my friend Lauren said about her friend who had committed suicide, a mere year before her own suicide. Her words seem to ring especially true right now as the world reels in the comedic loss of Robin Williams:
“We always question the people who look more upset and more depressed than usual, and never think to worry about the people who don’t seem capable of expressing any sort of negative emotion at all.”
Sometimes there aren’t signs. Sometimes you don’t know what someone is going through. Sometimes you’re just left feeling helpless.
Rest in peace, Robin. Thank you for shaping who so many people have grown up to be today.