The news that actor and comedian Robin Williams has died of an apparent suicide is naturally going viral. Reports say that he has been struggling with depression for some time now. Whether that had anything to do with the cancellation of his last TV series – “The Crazy Ones” with Sarah Michelle Gellar – is unknown.
Much will be written over the next several days about Williams’ career and how he made people laugh. But this tweet from my online friend Hallie Lord stood out because it reveals more about the person behind the public image.
Robin Williams came to the hospital my mom works at every Christmas to visit the sick kids. Never once did he publicize it. What a loss.
— Hallie Lord (@HallieLord) August 11, 2014
This tweet from actor Gary Sinise, who is active in veteran’s causes, is along the same lines:
R.i.P Robin Williams.His genius as artist & comedian will B missed & his support of R troops no doubt was much appreciated by all who serve
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) August 11, 2014
Entertainment journalist Bonnie Fuller was just on TV reporting that Williams desperately wanted to stay free of drugs and alcohol for the sake of his three grown children. They were his “motivation” and the reason he entered rehab a short time ago: to try to avoid falling into a depression that would lead him back to his personal demons. Though Williams’ demons seem to have gotten the better of him, his current devotion to his his family was evident in this picture he shared on Instagram two weeks ago, with this message: “#tbt and Happy Birthday to Ms. Zelda Rae Williams! Quarter of a century old today but always my baby girl. Happy Birthday @zeldawilliams Love you!”
This kind of incident brings the tragic power of mental illness to light, and many Twitter messages reflect the truth that people feeling depressed need to ask for help:
Such sad news…mental illness is real…if you are struggling, reach out and get the help you need. #RIPRobinWilliams
— Patricia Heaton (@PatriciaHeaton) August 11, 2014
Getting help for mental illness is not easy. But you are so worth it. Ask for help. Keep fighting. You aren't alone. #DepressionLies
— TheBloggess (@TheBloggess) August 11, 2014
Depression is an awful, very REAL disease that no one should be ashamed of. Ask for help early & often. RIP Robin Williams.
— Kelly Clinger (@kellyclinger) August 11, 2014
You start off as a kid seeing Robin Williams as a funny man. You come of age realizing many of his roles are about keeping darkness at bay.
— Bilge Ebiri (@BilgeEbiri) August 11, 2014
So sad to hear about Robin Williams. As he quoted Thoreau in Dead Poets, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." #RIPRobinWilliams
— Mark Hart (@LT_TheBiblegeek) August 11, 2014
May Robin Williams rest in peace. Victims of suicide are, I believe, in their terrible pain, pitied, loved and forgiven by a merciful God.
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) August 11, 2014
Though Robin Williams made many people laugh, he could also be poignant, as he was in the scene below from the Christopher Award-winning movie “Awakenings.” It shares a message that Williams would likely be happy to have as part of his film legacy – a message about life that applies to everyone. May Robin Williams rest in peace and may his family find consolation and healing.