By now, you already know Robin Williams took his own life over this past weekend. I’m not here to rehash what you already know. I write this post to help (myself) make sense of a tragic moment in our lives.
For those of you who were too young to have seen Mrs. Doubtfire before, this scene will always resonate with me. Here, Robin (dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire) explains via a children’s TV program some of the changes life brings as we grow older. Sometimes, parents get divorced, but that doesn’t make it the affected children’s fault. In the end, he assures a young viewer that he will be okay, even if he doesn’t feel like it will be in the moment.
But sometimes, hope isn’t enough on its own. I previously wrote about the five different types of moments we experience in our lives. You can read about it in more detail here. Robin Williams experienced an Ugly Moment.
He was a man who brought tremendous joy and laughter into countless people’s lives. I’ll admit it; Patch Adams was my favorite Robin Williams movie. Robin lived to inspire people and make the world a better place to be, if only for a moment. He possessed a talent of taking a Bad Moment and making it feel like a Beautiful Moment.
Case in point: I remember about 5 years ago, when Conan O’Brien was airing his final episodes of The Tonight Show. Robin Williams was one of his final guests. This was a time of much tension between fans of Jay Leno and fans of Conan O’Brien. Robin sang Conan a spirited song and tap danced on Conan’s desk. The song and dance number had to be censored for language, but it still aired. In that moment, Conan was laughing so hard, he probably forgot that he was losing his job.
Robin Williams could make anybody laugh, except for himself.
Suicide is a very serious topic. Say it in schools, and the adults around you are required by law to take it seriously. They can’t take the chance of calling a bluff and receiving a phone call later on that a child has taken his own life.
Your life impacts the lives of everybody you surround yourself with. If they are decent, humane people, they will care a great deal whether or not you’re alive and well. They will celebrate your life and mourn your death. They will notice if you’re not around.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve verbally wished I would die before in front of my friends. The good people that they are, this disturbed them a lot.
Sure, in a rational state, I wouldn’t have the conviction to end my life. But what happens when my depression sets in, and I can’t think rationally enough to tell myself, “I matter. I’m not a burden on my loved ones?”
This past summer, two of my mother’s former co-workers informed her that their sons had both (separately) committed suicide. And now the man who radiated joy and laughter has, too.
My mother has already forced me to promise to talk about it if I ever felt like I didn’t want to live anymore. Friends. Family. It doesn’t matter whom you feel comfortable talking about it with, you just need to talk to someone.
Tear down the wall and let your loved ones help you.
For those of you who fear someone close to you may be on the verge of suicide, here’s what you can do:
TALK TO HIM ABOUT IT.
That’s it. It’s that simple. Let him (or her) know you care enough to say something. Let your loved one know that he’s not a burden on you or anyone else. Let him know that it’s okay to have an Ugly Moment in life.
Life moves on, whether you’re around for it or not. Not having you around is more of a burden to bear than your presence around us. It’s okay to be yourself. Some people take years to learn this lesson, others never do.
Even if you don’t feel like communicating your thoughts of suicide with a loved one, do it anyway. It’s a mental sign that tries to tell you that you’re not thinking clearly. Give it some time to turn around. After all, after the storm comes the rainbow.
Shine on, and find peace with yourself, within yourself.
PS – The national suicide prevention hotline and relative information can be found here. If you or someone you know has these feelings or you suspect he or she has these feelings, please call immediately. Thank you.