Robin Williams actions have caused a lot of controversial discussion. The issue of suicide has taken center stage, and I have to say I have for the most part been embarrassed by all sides of the discussion. Those who take to lightly the struggles of depression have shown ignorance, and those rebuking them show equal ignorance in failing to suggest any real solution to the problem outside of telling other people they are wrong. I just felt compelled to share some of my own thoughts about suicide based off all the discussion going on.
1. It’s Not Romantic
I’ve grown frustrated over this one. Suicide does not need help in being put into a positive light. Quickly after news of Robin Williams I saw the plethora of regularly quote lines from his films. The one I saw as a top tier was from Hook. “To die would be a great adventure.” Could you take a lesson more out of context form a film then in that moment. What happened to his end quote of the film? “To live would be a great adventure.” The adventure stops at death. Suicide robs you of a truly grand adventure. It’s an adventure where you can share your joy and passion to future generations. It’s an adventure where you can enjoy the companionship of loved ones. There was nothing grand about the suicide. There was nothing magical or romantic. It was tragic. We try and romanticize tragedy as something grand, but the truth is trying to make it look like a rose of thorns insults those who simply need to grieve and express the pain and anguish. The plethora of people who quoted this line over the past few days seemed to show nothing of ignorance, which bring me to..
2. Ignorant People Speak Quickly“It was his choice” or “He had no choice” seem to be the two outrageously spoken statements on the issue. Both screaming responses fail to pick up on the complexity and nuances of depression and suicide. In a desperate attempt to outdo the other they leave those still in pain by the wayside. I’m not going to go into to much of the topic of whether or not someone truly depressed has a choice in suicide, because frankly I am not an expert just like every single person I have seen speak on the subject so far. What I do know is this, many people have been tempted to commit suicide and have chosen not to due to see small acts of compassion in this world. What made a key difference over the act of suicide outside of need medication was someone else making a different kind of choice. The kind of choice that says, “I am going to make a point to be a blessing to someone today.” Those who say Robin Williams had no choice fail to understand the complexity just as those who say it was only his choice. There is hope. That is what we should really be shouting out in this issue isn’t it? Robin reached a point where he believed all hope was gone. His story is now ended as a cautionary one. Stop screaming about the “why”, and start acting on the “what now.”
3. It Can Happen to Anyone
It doesn’t take much to get someone depressed. It really doesn’t. There is enough evil in this world to make people discouraged. That sounds depressing. We can choose to counteract that though. Robin Williams was a man with success. What then about those who are in true despair over lfie situations? What are we doing to reach out to them? How are we making a difference? I work a job where it is rare to be thanked. My work is in a season where I deal with angry hateful people, more discouragingly I deal with angry and hateful Christians. During a particularly discouraging day I helped one person who later emailed me to thank me for my help, and to tell me how encouraged he was by my conversation with him. He was also very discouraged. I made a choice not to live in the despair for a single moment, and show compassion to someone. In that process that man made an equal decision to reach out and show compassion and encouragement to me. Why in the world are we not talking about this more? Stop talking about what Robin Williams choice was. YOU have a choice! A choice to make change. What will you decide?