Suicidal Tendencies


I was reminded recently of Robin Williams’ death, and the pain that he suffered without relief.

He was a complex human being, prone to extreme ranges of humor and sadness, as befitting a personage of his stature and abilities.  But he also withheld a piece of himself — a deep-seated anguish — that could not be dispelled by even his dearest of loves.  There is no shame in that.  There is no shame in suicide.  It is what it is.

We cannot begin to contemplate the exact nature of the demons that possessed him, but those of us who have travelled that road have some inkling of what he was going through.  He might have told us, had we passed him down that dark, dusty dirt road, “Oh god,” chuckling, “get off while you still can.”  And then, as an aside, “Something Pat Robinson never said.”

Mr. Williams will forever be in my heart, because not only did he have a great respect for his fellow man, but because he dealt with demons that I was familiar with.  My son helped me battle those demons, but they are still with me day in and day out.  And Mr. Williams had his son, his daughter, to pull him from that brink, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.  Why?  It doesn’t matter.  Our hero — flawed, in pain, hurting — could not rise to the surface for that extra breath of life.

Again, there is no shame in that.  Robin William’s suicide isn’t a tragedy.  It is a celebration of life, of laughter, and I think if he wanted anything from his fans, it would be that we respected, admired, and learned a little something from his example.  He wouldn’t want us to mourn him.  He’d want us to laugh.  He’d want someone to step up on stage and say, in that Robin William’s voice: “What the fuck was I thinking?”

That’s Mr. Williams.  That’s the man I want to remember.  The same man who gave life to Popeye, and years later made me shudder in One Hour Photo.  The man who made me laugh in Good Will Hunting, and made me ponder Shakespeare in Dead Poet’s Society.

The man who made me laugh as Mork from Ork (nanu nanu), and the man who secretly helped a child fulfill a lifelong dream.  No fanfare, no publicity.  Just a man.  Just a human being, doing what human beings should be doing.  Just a man, like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, searching, and ultimately finding, his heart.

No, I won’t mourn Robin Williams.  Instead, let me laugh, because that’s what he would have wanted.

And because my son’s smile, his laughter, reminds me so much of Mr. Williams:


And a more prophetic, forward-looking setup:


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