I didn’t write anything immediately when I heard of Robin Williams’ suicide, probably because my initial emotion was anger, not sorrow. Living with the memory of finding a friend’s dead body and the devastating aftermath for his family and friends has forever altered my brain, and I find myself confused by the idea of demonstrating an appropriate response to the premature ending of a life.

I could say I understand how someone might find suicide the only solution to their misery, but I would be exaggerating. Yes, I have been places I never want to go again. I never again want to experience the selfish, angst-ridden teen years when I believed that if I died, then they’d be sorry, but after crying myself to sleep I’d get over it. Or the time I was certain I had failed at everything . . . being a good wife, mother, person . . . that I seriously tried to will my heart to stop one night, but then got scared I might succeed. Or the time I went out to the lake during an impossibly windy day and curled up in a blanket for hours under a creaking tree hoping it would fall on me and end my self-pity, but then I got really hungry. Or most recently, wanting to run away every day this past winter, hating where I lived and everything I was doing, until discovering I had a thyroid imbalance, something fixed with a little pill, my unreasonable depression not my fault.

So I’ve never truly been where those who have succeeded at suicide have been. “Succeeded at suicide” is not a phrase I want in my eulogy.

Like my friend, Williams seemed to have everything going for him. But it’s not fair for us to play the But … game. But he was an actor. He was, and his performances were unforgettable. But he was a husband. He was, several times. But he was a father. He was, and I am sad for his children. But he was a role model. He was, and I fear for those who may interpret his final action as justification for their own. But he was Patch Adams, Mrs. Doubtfire, Popeye, Mork, Aladdin . . . he was countless things to countless people.

But he was successful. He was, though in whose eyes?

There were many indicators that my friend’s self-murder was premeditated, and when I return to the days preceding the event, I wonder about the signs. Those left behind always wonder what they might have missed, might have done differently. I wonder about those living with loved ones who endure chronic depression, and if at some point, even they envision an end to it. I don’t dwell on this thought.

Some call suicide a selfish act, but I know better. Selfishness keeps you alive. Perhaps, like my friend so long ago (but he was a husband, a doctor, successful, handsome), he could never really be himself, despite having “everything” available to him. He could not be selfish. He could not save himself. And for that, I can finally feel sorrow.

By author

Laurel lives and laughs and publishes and podcasts in Colorado's Rocky Mountains! She has published several multi-genre books and hosts the podcast "Alligator Preserves," where she interviews fascinating people, talks about the human condition, and shares scary stories from her "Dark Ebb" collection.

4 replies on “Suicide.”

Thank you Laurel! People close to me, including myself, will find so much peace from your special talent of writing. I will share this with them knowing they will find comfort in this.

Hi Robin,
I could ask for no better comment to this post, and if my words have a positive impact on anyone, then I feel truly blessed. Thank you for sharing your reaction to this complicated issue.

Laurie, this is so “spot on” how most of us felt about Robins suicide. So very hard to understand but then again the painful thoughts of how he could live up to everyone’s expectations of him could have been too much to bear. I was told a couple of years ago that one of my High School classmates had ended his life after being told by his sister that she could not take care of him any more and that he would have to be cared for in a Nursing home. He had MS and was in a wheel chair. I don’t know too many other details other than he had been a Lawyer. Everyone has such different perspectives on their lives, I think if the time came for me to go to a home that I’d be okay with it but hopefully I’ll never reach that occasion so I won’t worry about I now. That’s all, just really wanted to add my 2 cents worth to your comments.

Your thoughts are worth more than 2 cents, sistah! There is so very much sadness in the world, and each of us deals with it differently. As you said, “everyone has such different perspectives on their lives,” and that is why many people cannot understand the decisions other people make. I also believe that the word “decision” may not be accurate when it comes to many suicides as it implies rational thought, and I believe many who take their own lives may not be working with balanced brains. When I think of how out-of-control I felt just by having my thyroid hormones off, I can only imagine the anguish those with more serious imbalances face every day. I love you.

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