The first response most of us have to news of a suicide is: Why? And certainly the tragic death of Robin Williams was no exception. How could a man who brought so much joy and brightened the day for so many fail to feel the same thing for himself? Robin Williams' talent, his warmth, his energy, his generosity of spirit and his bigheartedness might have been singular, but his sad decision to take how own life was, unfortunately, all too common. And it's a heartbreaking decision that more and more people are making every year. So as we ask "why" about Robin Williams, we should also broaden the question. Why tens of thousands of people? What is happening that so many people make this irrevocable choice? What are we missing in our culture? How can we open up the conversation on this issue to make other choices seem more realistic and appealing?
I am writing anonymously to protect my daughter. She is mentally ill at the moment and suffers from, among other things, depression. I take no chances. I also won't name the corporation that is driving me insane. I am afraid of it. I'm sure it's much the same as all the others anyhow. I'll call it "The Beast."
Words like "addict," "abuser" and "alcoholic" are widely used indiscriminately to describe people who struggle with substance use issues and are laden with negative connotations for much of the culture. As a psychologist who treats substance use disorders I usually discourage my clients and their families from using these words to describe themselves or their loved one.