Neither Cowardly Nor Selfish

I’m sure any of you who’ve read my earlier articles have realized I’m not one to beat around the bush, so I’ll come right out and say it: this isn’t a pleasant topic. It’s one I’ve had plenty trouble putting to words, especially since August 11th is also the day my birthday falls on. I learned halfway through the day, and wailed the news to my family.

Sometime earlier that morning, Mr. Robin Williams had hung himself at his home in Paradise Cay, California, about a 20-minute drive from San Francisco. As the investigation progressed, it seems very likely the reasons were a mix of clinical depression and the news that he had early stage Parkinson’s disease.

But despite how terrible it all is, the plethora of assholes who think they know a single damn thing about what it means to be depressed and suicidal are even worse.

A barrage of insults exploded from various media sources since the news. I’m certainly not giving them the pleasure of being named, but the one news channel known for being a nuisance had its say, along with numerous individuals over the internet. It has got to the point that Williams’ daughter, Zelda, left Twitter, rattled by all the thoughtless scorn thrown her way.

As warmly arrogant as I may be, I’ll be the first to admit I’m no expert on psychology. But it is my area of study, and clearly that’s all that’s needed to set this whole stupid, spiteful mess straight. First, let me give the very small fragment of validation these people—if you can even call them that, since I fail to believe they’re worth the status of human beings—can possess.

The self-inflicted death of someone so well-loved elicits a variety of reactions, and to say anger isn’t valid is wrong. But to place this anger fully toward the recently deceased is another matter. Belittling someone for being in so much despair that they thought dying was the best solution is about as idiotic and childish as you could get. You want to get pissed off? Aim your scorn for what really caused all this—but I should warn you that you can’t throw a punch at it.

Clinical depression is a mental illness. I’d hope all of you get that, but society’s still having this admittedly one-sided conversation, so it’s clearly not the case. It’s not metaphysical gloomy-mood dust in your mind that you can just push off and go about things, once again right as rain. It’s something that can distort numerous things in your life—how often you go about your favorite hobbies, your self-esteem, sleeping, and eating habits. Have I mentioned the fact it can mess with you enough to cause uncontrollable crying? How about the fact a recent study’s discovered 60 percent of suicides involved individuals suffering from it?

Williams was suffering from clinical depression, which, again, is a mental illness. “Selfish” and “cowardly” aren’t words you use to describe the actions of someone who’s not fully conscious to what they’re doing. Coincidentally, the people that use such words seem to demonstrate the same apathy that someone suffering antisocial personality disorder might exhibit, people who are judged as spiteful by those who don’t understand their lack of control.

For the moment, I’m at a loss to find words to replace those two words so many enjoy to fling around in ignorant bliss. Sadly, each word I find and get a crisp definition for all seem to be associated with “doomed,” something that those who are suffering from depression or who are suicidal should never be.

I’ve really no clue how things work, if you can somehow read this, or if you’re aware of what happened afterwards, but I really hope you know this world misses you, Robin.

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