Cancer. Heart disease. Depression. Three devastating and life-threatening diseases, but sadly the last of the three is still a “silent” killer.
The world lost an immense talent and incredible human being yesterday. And while it’s hard to overcome the suddenness of Robin Williams passing, what’s even harder is wrapping your head around the fact that a man who brought such joy to millions around the world…was himself so lost and despondent.
In her statement, Robin’s wife asks that we remember him for who he was, and not how he died. While I would never want to go against the wishes of a person who is facing such grief, one can only hope that talking about his death will help to shine a light on the silent killer known as depression, so that we can focus on ways to identify those who are in need of help.
It is believed that more that 16 million people struggle with depression. 16 million. And sadly, way more than half of those people struggle with the disease in silence. Even those who struggle with it in public are often stigmatized to the point where they simply withdraw. Why? Because we don’t know how to help someone who is depressed. Sure we feel sorry for them and want to help. We just don’t know how to. But here’s the thing…don’t ever stop trying. If you know someone is in trouble, reach out to them. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you, because most of the time, they won’t. Make the effort to let them know they are not alone in their struggle.
I’m not saying this will always work. But ask yourself this question – wouldn’t you rather try to help someone in need than be left wondering – what if I just picked up the phone and called?
Robin Williams was a talent out of this world, which is why it’s so fitting he was introduced to us as the alien Mork, from Ork. His acting range marvels that of singers like Whitney and Mariah who at one time could hit any note they wanted to…whenever they wanted to.
Just recently, I watched a rerun of his guest starring role on Law & Orde: SVU as a sinister, deadly, yet sympathetic man. Tremendous. And I am not ashamed to say, if I’m flipping through the channels and find Mrs. Doubtfire or The Birdcage on (movies I’ve watched more times than I can count)…the channel does not move until either film has ended. Seriously, if you look at his body of work over the years, he belongs in the conversation of the greats that include Meryl Streep, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Di Niro and Al Pacino. Actors who are extraordinary because of their versatility and brilliance.
True, Robin Williams was a bright light in Hollywood, but if you listen to what people have to say about him…he was a bright light in life. The people who knew him, yes, they talk about his amazing talent, but they quickly move on to the human being that he was. And that’s what makes this so jarring and hurtful.
I think Jason Alexander said it best in his tribute yesterday, “Ah Robin, I’m so sorry the earth couldn’t stay worthy of you. Hope happiness awaits you.”
Thank you Mr. Williams…for your talent and for your humanity. Both are a tremendous loss to the world.
If you feel lost and need to talk to someone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255).