By Greg Price
In recent weeks the spectre of suicide has dominated the headlines given the untimely demise of actor/comedian Robin Williams, who hanged himself at his home in Paradise Cay, California on Aug. 11.
Given this was a comedic genius who also had skill in dramatic fare that delivered such fond memories as Mork and Mindy, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Aladdin, and Mrs. Doubtfire, his sudden passing has had many wondering how a man who had so much could end his life in such a way.
I got a very brief glimpse into the man when he was filming a scene in 2006’s “RV”, near Brooks.
As I and another reporter from Brooks and a small contingent of fans sat patiently waiting to get pictures of Robin Williams and Jeff Daniels in-between takes, Williams’ managers and handlers tried their best to shoo us away numerous times.
It really made no sense, because of all the articles I had read on the man, he was as nice as could be and very accessible to his fans.
His charity work is very well documented and his close friendships were very cherished ones where his actions matched his words. I had even read one article where he did an extra show on a day off in a comedy tour to help raise funds for the search for a missing girl in the area.
And sure enough, there he came by to his dressing room and stopped to pose for pictures with the media and fans who gathered and took his time to sign autographs.
With such a gentle soul, people looked for answers from the insensitive remarks of the likes of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh all the way down to a panel of mental-health experts putting their two cents in.
But the fact is, often suicide makes no sense at all.
You can point to his past drug and alcohol abuse, perhaps clinical depression, his recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease as triggers for that decision on Aug. 11, but in the end, Williams’ pain was all his own.
I’ve had suicide in my personal circle with people both successful and not successful in their attempts.
A friend from out of town just recently revealed to me their suicide attempt years ago in a heartfelt confession, which I think Williams’ case made them comfortable enough to talk about it. I will admit in my darker days the thought has crossed my mind. The quick solution to what felt like lifelong pain at the time in a couple of periods of my life.
In vanquishing those fleeting thoughts so they could not have any lasting grip on me was the grace of my family and friends.
For me quite simply, I could never do that to my family and friends leaving them with the painful question ‘what could I have done differently?’ Does that mean those who have committed suicide love their family and friends any less than I do?
Of course not, as I’ve mentioned before, each person’s pain is their own. Unique in its variety and intensity that serve as triggers in our darkest times.
I’m stating simply that it is the thing that I’ve been able to hold onto to snap me out of those funks in the lower times of my life. I think of all the good times with my family and friends in my life and know if I give myself the chance, those times will return again.
Anyone who claims they have the answer to stop suicide completely is taking the issue of suicide way too lightly. Medications, therapy, old-school tough love of ‘suck it up,’ they may work for some, but not for all.
Everyone’s pain is unique to themselves, be it physical or psychological.
My advice borders on cliché, but maybe it’s cliché for a reason, because it shows that you care.
Simply be there for one another in as many positive ways as possible.
When you go to your 20-year high school reunion, are you going to relish the times you were a bully to that overweight or ‘uncool’ kid? What possible life-affirming action can you get for picking on someone in junior high or high school? A history of being bullied in a child’s teen years can set the stage of low self esteem for an entire childhood.
Be the bigger man or woman and concentrate on building your own life instead of tearing down someone else’s.
Someone going through a tough divorce or financial situation? Invite them over for coffee and let them vent, or if financially able comfortably, help them get to the end of the month with a few extra bags of groceries or paying a couple of bills.
Have a friend who is battling depression with the unhealthy habits of alcoholism or drug abuse? Stand meekly by, try and get them the help they need.
It is so easy to be there for someone during the good times, the strength of one’s love for another is are you going to be there when the chips are down?
And unfortunately, even this advice will not end suicide entirely, because you cannot be there for someone 24/7 in their lives.
All that you can hope is your loving influence can give the suicidal, who many do not even realize they were even suicidal from outward appearance, the tools to cope when they are back alone with their thoughts.
There are no simple solutions to suicide, but perhaps simply being there for one another is a good start along with government backing with the same philosophy in giving the depressed the same support with various programs and medications.