Robin William’s death has inspired so many comments. I feel moved to add mine.
I have come out publicly about my own depression. I feel a kinship with Robin Williams, who had been candid about his depression, and I quote from an interview he did with Terry Gross, another of my heroes:
“Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”
RIght about now, the media is/are (take your pick) full of people pontificating about stigma. Sure, there’s stigma, and it’s wrong. But I’d like to offer some thoughts, too:
- I understand the need to report the cause of death. But is it necessary to repeat the exact methodology every time there’s a new report? Today, James Ragland, writing in The Dallas Morning News, tells us exactly how Robin Williams offed himself. Here’s why I think he’s wrong: Every suicidal person out there is morbidly attracted to the details. Do we need to feed this interest? I don’t think we do.
- If you don’t know the signs that someone is considering suicide, ask. Come to think of it, if you suspect there may be an interest in suicide, ask. Here are some things suicidal people do that may not be as well known as others:
- Giving away stuff — lots of it
- Feeling better all of a sudden, as one might if a decision to seek the final solution has been reached
- Extreme sadness or a lack of desire to do anything other than brood
- Joking about suicide (yes, really!) or commenting that everyone would be better off if … (yes, sometimes it is that clear)
- Withdrawing from other people
- Hoarding pills or other dangerous substances
I don’t know how you get rid of the stigma. For a while there, I thought the thing to do was for those of us with jobs safe from stigma to speak out. Then I lost my job safe from stigma, and I no longer speak out.
Well, maybe sometimes I speak out.