On August 11, 2014, suicide took the life of one of the world’s great comedic legends, Robin Williams. Humorous and entertaining, Williams was able to touch the lives of many through his popular roles in films, such as Dead Poets’ Society, Jumanji, and Flubber, among others. I will forever remember him as the wise, sensitive Genie who guides Aladdin through the obstacles to become a prince.
When the news of his death came on that Monday evening, most people reacted with surprise.
Another Facebook user writes later that night: “I would have thought that since he was a comedian, depression wouldn’t have even been an issue for him. Who would’ve thought that he of all people was suicidal?”
“If you need help, call the suicide hotline,” yet another user posts. “They will always listen to you!”
After reading pages of thoughts, posts, and comments, I slammed my laptop shut, completely disgusted. Yes, it did truly sadden me when I heard of Robin Williams’ passing. What angered me, however, was the way the general public was reacting to it.
Depression for me is an extremely sensitive issue. Many of my loved ones have struggled with it; some able to overcome it, others not. It can affect anyone, at any time.
It is extremely difficult to say this, but I have been suffering from depression since my freshman year of high school. In the past, I have self-harmed, starved myself, and convinced myself that I was worth nothing. At some points in my life, I was even suicidal.
Believe me when I say this: depression is something that I wish no one would have to suffer through. On some days, I would lay in bed, awake but unwilling to move. I felt as if my day-to-day life took too much effort out of me. I would lay and watch my friends and family enjoy themselves, not wanting to get up and join them.
Right now, I am at a completely better point in my life. After I was diagnosed with depression, I tried a few different antidepressants, until I found one that I could function comfortably on. I have stopped self-harming, and I feel more confident in myself. I still have to meet a therapist to monitor my feelings so that it doesn’t strike again.
As someone who has intimately dealt first-hand with depression and suicidal thoughts, I feel as if the general public needs to be more educated on this very serious illness. If someone is struggling with dark moods and thoughts, you won’t be able to notice just by their outward appearance. These moods and feelings are extremely difficult to bring up in a conversation. Through my own experience, I can definitely say that if someone you know has depression, you probably won’t be able to tell.
If you think you are suffering with depression, please reach out to a loved one, counselor, or therapist. It is so worth it. Don’t become one of the 40,000 victims of depression each year, according to the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE).
Even if you believe you do not suffer from depression, make sure that you make yourself available whenever someone wants to share his or her feelings with you. Do not treat it as a joke.
Suicidal thoughts are not something to be taken lightly. As a society, we need to be more proactive and show others that we truly do care about them. We cannot react with concern after someone has taken his or her life, when in reality, we should have been sympathetic and understanding all along.
Be actively supportive of those who are suffering with this silent illness. You can help save a life.