On the Suicide of a Gifted Artist

Robin Williams killed himself.

I have resisted writing about Robin Williams’ suicide.

But what I have heard from so many has spurred me to say these few words.

Robin Williams’ suicide reminds us of how fragile we are. While it is tragic that such a gifted man took himself away from us, he has left us this gift, if we will but accept it.

I have heard the many opinions about how suicide is a choice and how it was drug abuse and blah, blah, blah. People are angry at Robin for what he did. That is a normal part of grief, and if expressed healthily it can be a good thing. What is NOT healthy is to question Robin’s motivations: we can’t know that. What is also NOT healthy is to blame: choices, drugs, lifestyle, mental health. We also cannot know that. We don’t know what level of physical, emotional, spiritual pain he lived with. We don’t get to judge that. It is not our place. Some can point out rightly that Robin’s suicide is a symptom of a larger social problem, but a symptom of what? Sensitive souls feel things that most of us deny. What deadly substance in the fabric of our society did Robin die as a canary to tell us?

Behind the anger and the blaming is fear. Robin made us aware that the facade we live day-to-day is fragile, that our illusions of being OK are fragile. Robin’s tragic last act has pierced the illusion. Rather than face our fear, we use our anger to push it down, blaming one thing or another. We are afraid to feel empathy, for empathy would require us to acknowledge and own our own disordered thoughts.

WE ARE INSANE, by some definition or another. Our insanity will lead to some sort of death. We can only recover our health by admitting both our individual and corporate insanity. Robin has very rudely thrust that in our face. We can begin to look at our individual and corporate insanity and begin to heal; or we can push it back down under our denial and continue to race towards our own group suicide — or we can take this moment to stop, look, feel, put down our digital devices and connect with each other.

One of my favourite quotes from Robin is, “I used to think the worst thing was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” We move about in a world where that is the norm. Please people, let us be human with each other. Let’s use our many gadgets to make life easier, not to replace life with an illusion. Let us embrace our own fragility, and the fragility of our neighbours, parents, children — even our enemies. Let us share the discomfort of that fragility together.

If any of you who are reading this are wrestling with thoughts of suicide, please click on this link


2 comments on “On the Suicide of a Gifted Artist

  1. cybergrail says:

    #RIPRobinWilliams #NanuNanu #BangARang #YouWereLoved #YouWereGreat #WishYouKnewHowMuch #YouWillBeMissed

    Some people are being judgmental & rude in the unfortunate passing of the great Robin Williams and it’s really upsetting how people can try to make themselves seem superior even in his and his family’s pain.

    Sometimes we take, take, and take and forget to refill, replace &/or replenish.. If there was a well full of water, and you were thirsty, you would most likely drink from this well everyday until the well ran dry. I mean what’s the point in having access to all this water if we can’t enjoy it right? No harm no foul… Or so we think. People do this with people too. I personally understand that sensation of being drained & pulled in every direction & left dry… I know many people who deal with that daily & I know of people who take selfishly daily too. To feel more lonely in a room full of people than when you’re by yourself, no one understands this? Ever consider that maybe this man knew how to make us all laugh and feel good so well through his talent because he himself knew ALL TOO WELL what feeling sad and lonely was like? Some people are saying he was a weak man for taking the easy way out… REALLY?? I actually think he was a VERY strong person to still do what he did everyday to entertain US through all of his pain and sorrow! I don’t know about you all but I get pretty drained when I’m forced to smile and be pleasant to people when all I want to do is cry and be left alone.

    Robin Williams gave and gave and gave and when you’re the life of the party, the one with that great warm & inviting smile and everyone expects for you to be the entertainment, who entertains him? Who replenishes his spirit and energy? Although many of us feel a certain way in regards to suicide and feel it’s a very selfish act, whether it is or not, many people who do commit suicide are plagued with a very sad and harsh mental illness they can’t control. Fame, money, & fans don’t equal complete bliss, peace & happiness. Don’t be so quick to say he had it all.

    Robin Williams made several statements and was quoted for years and if you read or listened to what he was consistent with, this poor man was sick for a long time and was honest about his depression and loneliness. Maybe his cries for help? We don’t really know. Maybe he was as funny and genius in his talent and gave his all to his craft and us because that was when he felt loved and appreciated the most or not alone. I don’t condone suicide or any life being taken in any form, but I think we all can understand in some capacity, wether small or big, the feeling of being alone or feeling like no one understands. Instead of condemning this man, let’s remember his legacy, his legend, his genius, his talent, his contribution to making you laugh and smile when you were down and out & allow his family to grieve without your harsh comments and judgements. You never know what people are going through & people don’t always know what you’re going through. Be there for your loved ones & let them be there for you… Reciprocate & have gratitude for great people in your life.

    In the word of #SmokeyRobinson

    ♪♫ People say I’m the life of the party
    ‘Cause I tell a joke or two
    Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
    Deep inside I’m blue

    So take a good look at my face
    You’ll see my smile looks out of place
    If you look closer, it’s easy to trace
    The tracks of my tears…. ♪♫

    Original artwork & credit: @EmilyStepp

  2. cybergrail says:

    100 people killed themselves in America today, 100 more will kill themselves tomorrow.

    The death of Robin Williams really hurts and I don’t really understand why. He seemed to me to be very kind and giving.

    Your post above is insightful and represents a perspective I’ve never heard before.

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