Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Random Thoughts on Suicide and our Love for Robin Williams

I know that no one wants to think badly of Robin Williams for killing himself.  We all want to find a way to - not necessarily justify it, but make him blameless because we loved him so.  So I've been reading so many articles and posts lately about mental illness, and how the people who commit suicide are in such pain that they see no other way of escape, no other relief, and how terrible that pain must be.  Many of them stop just short of stating it's not suicide if you are driven to it by your mental illness.

I know that i have no idea how someone feels when they re at the point where they might commit suicide.  I am the first to admit I don't know how other people feel and I wouldn't judge them for what they do.  Nobody knows what it's like to live as anyone else, unless we could climb inside each other's heads and curl up in their brains for awhile.  All we know is how WE IMAGINE we'd feel in their shoes.  And that's imagination.  We don't even know how we'd truly feel in their shoes - we have to imagine it.   Imagination is powerful and makes us think we KNOW.  We don't.  So I don't judge.

But a part of me has been a little concerned for the last day or so, that teenagers and young folks who might be going through a rough time will read these articles and think, suicide is okay as long as you are really, really in pain.  As long as it's your only way out.

I think we need to be very careful, the message we put out there.  And by we, I guess I mean the media.  In our anxious hurry to show our love for the departed Robin Williams, in our hurry to understand and forgive, we might just be telling people that what he did is okay, because he was mentally ill.

Now, again, I'm not judging.  I have no idea what it was like being him.  He was always so manic, it's hard to imagine that he didn't suffer sometimes from what to do with all that energy.  It was like he was always running on high adrenalin.  Couldn't settle down.  Couldn't make himself stop.

Still.  I feel like, if you have the cognitive processing ability to know that something is seriously wrong with your thinking, you have a responsibility to get yourself help.

But i want to make justification for him, too, because I loved him, and because I know that I don't know what was going on in his head.  So maybe, by age 63, he'd spent so much of his life trying to find a way to calm the mania and at the same time, give everyone what they wanted from him, and maybe by age 63 he'd been down so many paths trying to find help and not really finding it, that he lost all hope for ever feeling better.

When it's an older person who kills himself it is different than when it's a youth.  You know he was mature enough to have thought this through.  

I just hope we aren't telling teenagers that feeling terrible and hopeless and in pain is a reason to kill yourself.

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