When the Laughter Dies. Robin Williams and Our Culture of Depression.

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August 20, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

Robin Williams blanket

Robin McLaurin Williams. 1951-2014.

By now, you all have heard the news. Legendary funny-man Robin Williams died of apparently self-inflicted wounds. Suicide. He left behind an astonishingly versatile legacy of laughter, of drama, of indelible impressions and memorable, iconic characters that will live on forever.

His mentor and friend,Jonathon Winters, legend himself, would have been proud of what the student accomplished.

His first big break came as the well-intentioned alien of a thousand voices in Mork and Mindy (1978-1982) on the small screen. The Genie in Disney’s Aladdin (1992), was his favorite voice, animated role. He proved cross-dressing could be sweet and funny in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993). he was the charismatic and innovative teacher we all would have liked to have had in Dead Poet’s Society (1989). The uplifting Radio DJ in Good Morning Vietnam (1987). His Academy Award winning turn as Sean Maguire, the Psychiatrist who befriends Matt Damon’ s savant Will in Good Will Hunting (1997) and helps him break through his inner demons. His absolute frenetic, inspired and haunting portrayals as creepy, homicidal loners in Insomnia (2002) and One Hour Photo (2002) will stick in our collective psyche.

Robin Williams welding

Thanking the Academy and his Dad for telling him to have a back-up plan like Welding.

All those legendary, intense, absolutely brilliantly-scary live stand-up comedy for over 4 decades may never be matched for their raw, all-consuming, intense power. So intense, that Hollywood critic Vincent Canby once wrote that “Robin’s creative process on stage was so intense, so raw that it seemed at any moment the process could reverse itself and one could witness an absolute meltdown.”

His range of roles was uplifting and life-affirming as well as dark, troubling and brooding. Even disturbing. Perhaps like their creator.

Robin starred in over 100 roles, some of them forgettable (Popeye), some complex (What Dreams May Come-1998), and some that he openly admitted he resented doing (TV’s-The Crazy Ones-2013) but as he also admitted, “Two messy divorces will suck you dry…I need the money.”

By all accounts, Mr. Williams was as gentle and sweet a soul as he was funny. As generous as he was talented. As caring as he was creative.

Shortly after his death his third wife Susan informed an adoring and grieving fan base that the comedic actor was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. This on top of what many knew was his on and off battles with drug and alcohol addictions. He had recently admitted himself into a Minnesota rehabilitation center (Hazelden Center) for depression and a renewed battle he feared he was losing wiith alcohol addiction. He had been clean and sober for over two decades.

Instagram pictures of Robin Williams just before his death betrayed a gaunt and aged man, not the energetic, nearly preternaturally so, of an icon who it seemed had an endless reserve of energy, passion and creative brilliance. A comedic comet impervious to burn-out.

Robin williams laughing

A true original.

Sadly, this was not the case.

But was his suicide avoidable? Was his suicide the result of drugs prescribed to combat his early stages of Parkinson’s Disease?

Robin’s close friend and Saturday Night Live alum Rob Schneider thinks so. He is publicly and loudly blaming Robins’ suicide on the side-effects of such drugs as Prozac and is pointing the finger right at Big Pharma.

Is this fair?

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that roughly 450,000 Americans die from slef-inflicted wounds, the vast majority of which are suffering from severe depression and are on some form of Selective Serontonin-Uptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drugs or part of a broad range of anti-depressant drugs now being prescribed to 1 in every 3 Americans currently from one degree to another.

We seem to be fast becoming a nation of depressed, heavily medicated folks who are at an increasingly higher risk to suffer from suicidal tendencies. Depression, diagnosed as a disease or as a “situation-induced,” irresistible, impulse strikes an alarming number of Americans every year. And that number seems to be growing.

Mr. Williams was in a particularly high range for the probability of suicide. White males aged 60 and over commit suicide at the highest rates in America. Those suffering from disease and battling various forms of addiction as he did are even higher.

Still. Critics like Mr. Schneider insist that the loosely regulated pharmaceutical industry in America with its pill-popping inducements are largely to blame. As Schneider rightfully asserts one of the disclosed side-effects of Prozac and other anti-depressant medications, especially for those at the highest risk of self-inflicted wounds is indeed suicide. A toxic medical mix if ever there was one.

The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), charged with regulating such drugs and making public disclosures and warnings about the known effects of taking such drugs issued a so-called “Black Box” warning years ago. But aggressive and highly-financed lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry seems to be paying off. At least for the manufacturers and distributors of such powerful narcotics. SSRI drugs are more widely distributed, prescribed and taken now than at any other point in our nation’s history

So, it seems to be at least a reasonable question to pose. Are we more depressed and in more need of powerful anti-depressant medication which may ironically be contributing to even more severe depression? Or, is the relative ease of over-the-counter anti-depressants and those professionally prescribed creating a nation of “walking zombies?” One step away from doing something rash, tragic and unalterable to ourselves and to those we love?

On the other hand, similarly high-profile, celebrity Parkinson’s patients like actor Michael J. Fox have been medicating to combat the ravages of Parkinson’s for years now and he is still upright and by all accounts, not suicidal. But then the adoring public isn’t necessarily privy to the darker moments such folks grapple with in their ever smaller windows of privacy.

Robin Williams Mork

The early role he loved to hate.

Political pundits like Rush Limbaugh assert that Robin’s suicide can be blamed at the altar of liberalism itself. He argues that at the core of left-wing politics, such as those practiced by Mr. Williams is a “cult of cynicism, pessimism and self-loathing.” It was only a matter of time according to Mr. Limbaugh.

Robin Williams was 63 at the time of his passing. He leaves behind a wife, several kids and an adoring public that will always feel cheated we didn’t get one more laugh, one more smile, and couldn’t give one more approving nod at the brilliance of a one-of-a-kind entertainer and human being.

I’ll let him get the last words before we close the curtain one final time.

“You are only given one small spark of madness, you must never lose it.”

“Comedy is all about acting out your own, natural optimism.”

Robin Williams, July 21, 1951-August 11, 2014. Rest in Peace. You’ve more than earned the break.

Robin willliams bw

Now, a new audience to entertain.

For more information on mental health and mental health awareness week this year, please go to http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=mental_illness_awareness_week

bengal-tiger-why-matter_7341043

 

 

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28 thoughts on “When the Laughter Dies. Robin Williams and Our Culture of Depression.

  1. Erich C says:

    This sad story brings to light a few things to consider. Did the prescribed medications have an adverse effect? Who can say for sure but one cannot get around the fact that the drug industry has its share of problems including ethical ones. Why do I see commercials for anti-depressants, antacids, and vitamin V more than most other industries? Do MDs need to learn about new medications through TV. Is there a 9000 level class called “Prescribing Through Commercials?”
    Drug companies advertise to the general public knowing that doctors will prescribe the drugs that are requested by their customers, I mean patients. The drug companies often have a list of side effects that requires half the commercial to rattle off. But I don’t believe that the drug companies can be held 100% responsible though they may or may not share in the blame.
    Society must share some of the burden as so many people die of self-inflicted wounds. Money, fame and fortune did not help Robin Williams partly due to the stigma that American society places on mental illness. It is considered valiant to battle cancer in American society but it is considered shameful to battle suicide. One reason might be that most people cannot cure cancer so no responsibility can be assigned when someone dies of cancer other than poor lifestyle decisions. If a friend says that he or she is feeling suicidal then it becomes the responsibility of those who know to step in and help. It is easier to ignore the problem than to possibly be held accountable. It is sad to lose an entertainer but much sadder to lose a husband and a father. Hopefully Robin’s death can somehow help society to look at this issue and take action.

    • Erich-some nice points here-customers and not patients is a key factor and the stigma of suicide (they must be weak or unfit) v cancer (no cure, not their fault, even if say they were a heavy smoker their whole life). We need to know more about mental depression and how to intervene before it’s too late-

  2. Brandi S says:

    Robin Wilams eath was a shocker to me. He was one of my favorite comedians. I do not think that his suicide was intentional. Some of the medications have a lot of side effects and depression is a biggie. It is sad that he is no longer with us but he will alw be remembered as one of the greats….

  3. jerkendra says:

    Wow! I was unaware that he committed suicide. I am shocked and truly saddened. Goes to show we never know what is going on in other’s life even if they are smiling bright on the outside. This was very devastating news, especially since he was such a funny man. I agree that the drugs in the U.S. could be regulated a little tighter. Nowadays it is as easy as going in the store and buying chewing gum to get prescribed medication. Because of addictions, going to the doctor just to get prescribed medication is routine for some people. It is sad to know that during this current time the most people are prescribed anti-depressants. Do they help? I believe for some people they do. I do not agree that the medication was the sole source of his suicide. Who knows if he was even still taking his medication or at least properly? I believe there were other issues and factors combined that led to his actions. I hate this happened though.

  4. Callen says:

    As an individual that has experienced the negative and dark side of depression first hand and was given the chance at a normal life by using anti-depressants, I cannot fully agree that drugs and the pharmaceutical companies are to blame for an increase in suicides. While I also do not feel that anti-depressants are a cure-all for the depressed, I do feel that when used properly and monitored on an individual basis they can be very beneficial.

    Someone battling depression can feel so isolated that he or she can see no other way out. In order for others to intervene, in most cases, they must be very close with the individual fighting this battle. After I was able to get a hold on my depression and began to talk to others outside of my family, people were shocked. I was able to cover it up and fool everyone on the outside and only let those closes to me in on my secret. Without those close individuals that I allowed in, I am not sure I would be here today. They were people I was able to confide in and they didn’t blow me off or judge me. They understood the severity of the situation and were able to get me the help I needed.

    I feel that throughout US history anxiety and depression have had such negative connotations associated with them that many people think people are crazy or just need to “get over” their issues. Depression is something that people in the past did not address or discuss. You were expected to deal with your problems and move on. This is certainly not the case today. I believe that people need to become educated on depression. Whether it be situational depression or a chemical imbalance, depression and anxiety are real and affecting people of all ages. As a whole, we need to be more open-minded and understanding of this disease. People need to understand that even though they may believe that anti-depressants are negative and not the answer, counseling, rehab and self-help are not always the answer either. Depression needs to be addressed and evaluated on an individual basis just like any other illness. I have been there. I have felt that the negative side effects of the anti-depressant weren’t worth the positive way it affected my life. My mom changed my view point with one simple statement. She simply said, “Callen, if I was to tell you I had high blood pressure, but I did not want to take the medicine because of the negative side effects you would be very upset with me.” She was exactly right. Depression is an illness. It is just like any other illness that someone battles and that is the way we need to view it.

  5. Car-ra B says:

    Aladdin is probably my favorite Disney movie (I still have the cassette, I know all of the songs, and I can probably still recite the lines verbatim). It is very unfortunate to hear of Robin Williams’s death. I love the Robin Williams quote at the end of the post and have seen it floating around social media since he died: “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” I think this spark is what made Robin Williams such a great actor; however, I do agree with the statement by the critic Vincent Canby about Robin William’s creative process being close to a meltdown. He was so full of character, spontaneity, and wit, but these things may have also contributed to his most recent state of being. I’m sure that his past drug and alcohol problems, accompanied by his Parkinson’s diagnosis and medication did not provide him with any actual relief. You never know the pain someone is hiding behind a smile, a joke, or a laugh.

    The 1 of 3 statistics associated with anti-depressant drug prescriptions in America is very alarming. If suicide is a side effect of a drug, I am strongly against it being subscribed, especially if the person it is being subscribed to is not under continuous physician’s care. But it’s all about money in U.S. Healthcare. The war on drugs needs to work on targeting the pill pushing drug lords that the pharmaceutical industry has become. There definitely needs to be more transparency, communication, and education about medicine/side effects between all participants (pharmaceutical industry, doctors, pharmacist, and patients).

  6. Jacki G says:

    So much to take in with one post and I subject I feel very strongly about. I definitely think depression is a real illness that should be taken seriously. However, I also think that prescription medication for depression and other mental illnesses is handed out like candy, but I do not think it necessarily led to Robin William’s death. The comparison between Williams and Fox is very appropriate. Both were battling the same disease and probably taking similar medications and handled the situations completely differently. Who is to say Williams would not have taken his life even if he didn’t have the disease? It was well known that he battled addiction and depression his whole life, and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s later. Obviously the diagnosis put him over the edge. But I don’t think it is correct to blame Big Pharma for his death.

    With that being said, I strongly believe pharmaceutical industries and even doctors push prescription medication for very immoral reasons. Pharmaceuticals is a very profitable industry and pharmaceutical companies know just how to push doctors to prescribe their RXs. I once read a very eye opening book in a “Sociology of Medicine” class in undergrad. The basic idea was that pharmaceutical companies sponsor huge get-aways at 5-star resorts and present information to various doctors about all their new drugs. The pharmaceutical company hires sales professionals (borderline con artists in my opinion, the absolute SALES PROS) to present information about their RXs while the doctors are wined and dined and provided endless entertainment. It is sickening in a way, because of the state our healthcare system is in, but it also shows where a lot of healthcare funds are going and what they are being used for.

    Robin Williams death was very unexpected and tragic. The one thing I have noticed in the media is perhaps people are becoming more sensitive to mental illness? I remember when Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson passed away. Heath Ledger as well. I read and heard countless insensitive responses to their deaths and I am glad to see people (and this is only what I have seen, so I could be completely wrong) being more sensitive and less judgmental. Houston and Jackson may have been more controversial celebrities, while Robin Williams has generally always been taken well, but that does not downplay the seriousness which would mental illness should be taken, as well as our responsibility as a society to acknowledge our responsibility to deal with it appropriately.

  7. Heather W. says:

    Robin Williams was a great lost to the entertainment world. Though I did not see many of his films, “Bird Cage”, “Popeye”,”Mrs.Doubtfire”, just to name a few, I was saddened to hear of his death.Another human being lost to this world. His death grieved our nation, yet, I was not surprised. Many comedians have been known to suffer from some form of mental illness, whether it be depression, anxiety or just plain old low-self esteem. The star of the “Chappell Show” was known to suffer great bouts of mental anxieties behind the camera lense,along with many other comics. It has been said by comedians that the only way to cope with the trials of their lives was to make fun of it and laugh about it. This way of coping causes a suppression of emotions and results in a release of fake security–providing watching bystanders with a false joy. Unfortunately, stand-up comedians continue this downward spiral of inflicting judgement on others and themselves by use of a microphone, an audience and maybe a couple of “Tequila”shots to the head. Many comics “joke” about divorces, harsh childhoods and financial insecurities leaving viewers with a guilt-laced chuckle. Little does the unsuspecting audience know that such jokes are considered the creme topping on top of a deformed,crusty,souring cake. My heart goes out to Robin and those who follow in his footsteps. I can only hope that they seek a better understanding of what it means to cope with life’s issues.

    • lexislloyd says:

      I enjoyed reading your thoughts and point of view on this blog. It was definitely an emotional experience for many people when the great Robin Williams passed away. On the outside everything appeared perfect. He had everything that a regular person dreamed of. His rich and famous lifestyle seemed to be the ideal situation for most. However, who would have known how depressed he truly was on the inside. It was like he was just ‘acting’ and covering up his true feelings by making jokes and laughing. It is so sad to know that he was in such a dark place. I like how you mentioned Dave Chappell and his symptoms as well, Some of these comedians and actors hide their feelings so well. It is crazy to think that someone in such a high position could be so depressed. I hope that people are willing to discuss their feelings more and open up to someone instead of taking their own life. This is definitely an issue that we should aim at resolving. My heart definitely goes out to all those that have taken their lives and the loved ones that they left behind. I know Robin William’s friends and family were struck by this devastating news.

  8. Teddi C says:

    I don’t think we will ever really know why Robin Williams committed suicide or if his suicide could have been prevented. We do know that people with mental illness or addictions are stigmatized. Changing how we treat people with mental illness or addictions is something that every individual can do.

    We also know that some people benefit from some drugs but this varies from person to person. It’s between a doctor and the consumer or patient to determine what the best medical direction is for that person. Drugs are life changing for some people. They could not live a normal life without the assistance the medication gives them.

    I also know that the world is not quite as funny without Robin Williams in it.

  9. Angela B says:

    A person such as Robin Williams you don’t think that he would ever be able to commit suicide. He was so happy go lucky and always providing the laughs for when others needed them. However all the pressure he was under through all the years of being famous, battling addictions, and also depression can weigh on a person heavily. I believe that people instead of finding ways to combat stress and anxiety they want the easy way out and just get pills from their doctors. I understand research is done, but one pill cannot help everyone in the same way and can have adverse side effects. People are so on the kick of easy fixes whatever will solve the problem. Society has to come to reality and realize there are other ways besides medications. I do believe that some need it, but also they could just need some good counseling. I think Celebrities are at a great dis advantage as well because they are constantly in the “light” and we sometimes forget they are real people just like us. People need to help people and find alternative ways of dealing with stress and anxiety. The pharmaceutical companies are there to make money. America needs to wake up and realize that medicines are not the answer. Robin Williams will surely be missed and no one will ever know why he felt the need to end his life.

  10. kabaumgartel says:

    I think that people abuse anti-depressant drugs all of the time. They grow a dependence on them. However, I believe that we live in such a high stress level world. We are all trying to make money and get the best out of life as much as possible. But, it seems like some of the time that sometimes it just isn’t enough. I think it takes courage for some people to ask for help with their depression. None of us know what exactly Williams was going through, there could have been so much more going on that we have no idea about.

  11. Tricia P says:

    As someone who has experience with depression, and as someone who has used anti-depressant drugs for help, this post is one I feel very strongly about. I can’t fully agree with the statement that an over prescription of these drugs is leading to an increase in depression and potential suicides. While I agree that these medicines should be regulated, as they are, they have also done many things to improve the lives of suffering people, myself included. I think blaming the use of anti-depressants is a sweeping statement that ignores the nuances of different people and how they react to medication. The subject is too much of a gray area to make a definite decision on. Overall, it comes down to the relationship and communication between doctor’s and their patients.

  12. Kim F says:

    Of course the death of Robin Williams was very sad, yet I do not believe people realize how much the issues associated with depression are really around us on a daily basis. A celebrity dying is going to raise questions in nearly every aspect of his life. Many fans and critics easily want to place blame on medications, overlooking other possibilities like alcohol or illegal drugs maybe caused him to kill himself. As someone who suffers from depression, I definitely do not think the condition could excuse any behavior, nor do I think one should be able to place blame on the side effects of one’s medications for their actions. If an individual is in that severe of a mental state that they could cause harm to themselves or others, they either need to change dosage, begin a different medication altogether, and certainly need to be frequently monitored by their doctor. Regardless of the medical condition, every individual should be aware of any potential side effects from their prescription, and know they simply cannot stop taking it or change their dosage without speaking to their doctor. Celebrity or not, many of us are great at hiding how we truly feel or are doing. Williams could have truly been suffering with Parkinson’s before anyone else in his life knew. In addition to his alcohol and drug addictions and being in a high suicide category as was mentioned, he may have come to a point that no medication or program could have prevented him from taking his life if that was what he intended to do.
    -Kim

  13. Marcus E D says:

    So, there is a positive correlation between groups committing suicide and those suffering from mental illness and on mental health medications? Go figure! No, that is not the fault of the drug manufacturer! Add to the mental health disorder a gregarious/thrill seeking nature (which often results in limitless entertainment opportunities) and you get a recipe for disaster.

    How quickly the American left jumps to blame Big Business for the plight of the mentally ill in this country. They blame Big Business for obscene profits, pollution, manipulation of tax loopholes, disease, and poverty. As such, they may as well add celebrity suicide to the indictment.

    It is true that this country faces a mental health crises. What is also true is that American mental health care is among the best in the world. Our doctors and therapists are subject to world class training. Our drug manufacturers which thrive off of profits made from medications, invest billions of dollars into research. Where the government dollar runs out on the research front, Big Pharma foots the bill. Market/Consumer driven health care and the resulting profits invested in research and development are what keep America at the top of the health care and mental health treatment spectrum.

    Rob Reiner should thank his lucky starts that he lives and makes his career in the American free market. His opportunities for cultivation of his talent, profits, and achievement are greatest in THIS free country. And if Rob should fall victim to the ills of disease or mental illness, he will have at his disposal the world’s best in health care, therapy, research, and treatment.

  14. L. Mitcham says:

    We have all seen the numbers on the people in the United States being treated for depression. There are many reasons that people get depressed, and I think one of the reasons that does not receive as much attention are people like Robin Williams who have been diagnosed with a medical condition (in his case Parkinson’s Disease) and ultimately get depressed over having to deal with said condition. I personally have know two men who chose to end their lives rather than endure the condition they were faced with. One had terminal cancer and the other a form of dementia. They both left very detailed notes explaining the decision to end their life, with the common thread being they did not want to be a burden to their family. It was a shock to those who knew them when the news of their deaths was released. Most could not believe they could do such a thing. I must interject at this point that I also have known many people who had terminal illnesses who did not choose to take their own life. We will never know what causes a person to choose to end his life while others facing the same set of circumstances choose not to. I am sure that most people facing terminal changes in their lives experience some level of depression. It is at that pint that they must decide on how to deal with the circumstances life has given them.

  15. Ashley P says:

    Depression like many other mental disorders are often overlooked and under estimated by many individuals, especially those who are not affected whether directly or indirectly. The truth is, depression requires as much vigilance, support and education like any other disease or illness. The easiest thing to do when someone has a mental disorder (whether family or friend) is to disown them and this is the worst thing to do. Yes, it becomes frustrating because you’re not able to communicate properly, and you’re both scared of the consequences of the illness. Likewise, it’s best to become educated and supportive for these individuals and most of all vigilant. Luckily, throughout the years, pharmaceutical companies have done a wonderful job in providing medications to combat this disease. Unfortunately, as mentioned, they have adverse effects, one of which is the worst to be associated with a mental disorder-suicide. Often time, patients with thoughts of suicide always show some sign of the thought before the act is committed. This is where it becomes important for the constant vigilance of both a loved one and the doctor. It is important that along with pharmacological therapy, patients receive necessary counseling and be aware of the importance of reporting any side effects associated with drug therapy. Only if the patient is aware and reports the side effects, will they be able to treat him accordingly. Fighting mental disorders not only becomes the responsibility of the patient, but all those involved in the persons day to day life, which includes but loved ones and health care providers.

  16. tarac says:

    I do think we are living in an era where we have a substantial increase in medication to treat a vast number of problems. I am on medication myself for ADD and anxiety and I know when my body becomes unregulated, my world feels like a nuclear bomb went off. However, I do know that when my medication is changed, I research it and make sure I can deal with it. I think one of the biggest problems is that no one ever knows the level of someone’s depression, so you can have one person on medication for depression while maybe three others do not need it at all. As far as putting the blame on pharmaceutical companies, I think there are so many people with addictive personalities that do not know how to control themselves once they start taking something. I do not think the blame should be solely on pharmaceutical companies, there are so many factors involved. Doctors do need to start monitoring their patient’s better, which is a must. Too many doctors write prescriptions without doing a re-evaluation.
    When someone is diagnosed with a disease even if it is not terminal, you can never predict how this will affect the person. In the case with Robin Williams and comparing him to Michael J. Fox, just because they both have Parkinson disease, does not mean they both want to live their lives the same way. Take into the fact that Robin Williams was already dealing with depression and drug/alcohol addiction obviously he just seen a better way for himself. No one can judge him for what he did. You can always give advice until you are in that exact same situation.

  17. Gentry says:

    Robin Williams was a great actor and comedian. I have not seen some movies such as popeye and Mrs. Doubtfire but I’m sure they were just a good as the rest of his movies like Jumanji. It is sad that he committed suicide and I think the drugs may have a little bit of a cause to worsen his depression. He will forever be remember in the entertainment world as one of the greats and everyone will have a special place in their heart to remember him by.

  18. Kinsley M says:

    Robin Williams was truly a hero to some. To one of my very best friends, he’s basically my brother, The Birdcage did a lot for him. I thought Robin Williams was truly amazing in this movie. It’s so sad that he ended his life and was so unhappy. I don’t think there can be blame placed anywhere. People who are diagnosed with depression and many other things are given medicine to help them overcome it or at least make it bearable. I don’t think the blame for his unhappiness should be on big pharmaceuticals. Just think if he wasn’t on anti-depressants or prozac… I think it would have been a lot worse. Robin Williams was an incredible man, and it still hearts my heart to know that he is no longer with us.

  19. Katherine R says:

    We just came up on his anniversary. Such a sad day when I heard the news. He was a great man with incredible talent. I enjoyed all of his pieces. I hope there can continue to be some awareness through his death that anyone can be dealing with some issues and it is not out of selfishness. It is much bigger than the person. There is more educating to do, but I definitely saw some new perspectives after his death. Very sad day though.

  20. Ambreshia says:

    Robin Williams was a very funny guy. I can remember my first time watching Mrs. Doubtfire as a child. I absolutely loved the movie and later on my mom purchased it on VHS for me. It is such a tragedy that he was a consumed victim. Depression is so underrated now a days and many need to understand that mental illness is a horrible sickness. Depression requires education, support and surveillance. I feel as if putting the blame on the manufacturers of the depression drugs is not the issue. The manufacturer was only prescribing what was designated by the doctor. Robin left us way to early and he will be truly missed.

  21. valdostaphil says:

    This case is tragic. Our culture has come a long way toward eliminating the unjustified stigmas associated with depression and mental health, but we also still have a long way to go.

    In Virginia, the tragic story of Gus Deeds has resonated in recent years. It is a story of the system failing miserably on multiple levels. Just Google “Gus Deeds” or go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/a-fathers-scars-for-deeds-every-day-brings-questions/2014/11/01/2217a604-593c-11e4-8264-deed989ae9a2_story.html and read 1-3 minutes and you’ll have the basics. If this sort of thing happens even to affluent, educated people who should normally know how to properly navigate the channels to seek help, how do we expect people with no knowledge of the inner workings of our government, justice system, mental health services, or anything else to navigate it? How much criminal activity is actually due to undiagnosed mental health issues? Would treating mental health as a serious public health issue actually save money by preventing criminal activity and the subsequent incarceration costs?

    Gus’ father Creigh, a former gubernatorial candidate, in the wake of the tragedy, has advocated at the state level for mental health reform with some mixed results, but it is disgusting that more hasn’t been done to invest in this critical public health issue. Ignoring it costs far more in the long run than any short-term savings, and people’s lives fall through the cracks in the process.

    The science will keep going, and even doctors don’t really know everything yet. The pharmacology behind mixing multiple medications is uncharted territory even for medical researchers. There’s an interesting TED Talk TEDMed video on this subject at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGze_gjJTos. But before a lot of that sciencey stuff even matters, what we have to do is change our attitudes as a society toward this subject and get effective social policy solutions in place that minimize tragedies related to mental health rather than a lot of current policies which only exacerbate them. Again, we’ve come a long way. But we’ve still got a long way to go.

  22. D.Breland says:

    Depression hurts. Mental Illness is real. I never understood why we live in a society that acts like the brain is just this uncomplicated organ. It is beyond complicated. Sometimes I marvel at how ignorant our society is. We are only now realizing the traumatic brain injury is real. If we hit our arm and break a bone, we get it. If someone hits their head and die. We are amazed and wonder what happened. Let alone let’s talk about neurotransmitters misfiring and causing mood instability. I believe as a society we aren’t that ignorant. We are just trained to maintain the status quo. Weakness cannot be seen because you’re a judged and thrown out to the wolves and die. Simply Darwinism correct? Those who commit suicide, we say weren’t mentally strong. However, if we are in a civilized society why are we continually trying to mentally screw each other over? Are we humans or just animals.

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