I got a call alerting me that Robin Williams died, and I felt a shadow cross my heart. I loved him. I grew up watching his entire career, laughing hysterically along with the rest of the world at his endless stream of outrageous characters, his brilliant stand up and his dramatic roles. There seemed to be no end to his infinite talent. I, like many parents, had the added affinity for Robin because I was able to share his laughter with my children as they were growing up in the many kids movies in which he starred without an equal. I watched his philanthropy and saw a person with a deep understanding of the power to do good that comes as a responsibility when you are a celebrity.
Robin was very open about his struggles with addiction and depression. He did everything right, seeking treatment several times and being publicly accountable for his relapses. He spoke about it because he knew ultimately it was a public service to his fans that he bear witness and remove the shame from a disease that challenges 20 million Americans. He also knew that we are only as sick as our secrets, and that reaching out on matters of addiction and depression can mean the difference between life and death, and so he chose public disclosure and transparency.
As we look at his life, we are taught yet again that the diseases of addiction and depression are diseases of the brain that transcend all personal circumstances. No amount of money, fame, talent and in Robin’s case laughter, are a match for these formidable illnesses. Therefore, there should be no shame or hesitation in seeking treatment or help for a loved one. If every person who has been hesitant about taking a step toward seeking help for themselves or a loved one chose this moment to do so, it would be a step in finding a shred of meaning in Robin’s death.
But now, tonight, I stand in solemn remembrance of this beautiful man who brought us all a little bit of heaven.
For those who need information, the following sites can serve as resources.
For those who need more information on addiction and how to get help visit:
For more information on the nature of addiction visit:
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts visit:
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Call 911 if you’re worried that you or someone you know is in danger of hurting themselves and get to professional medical help immediately. Counselors are available to walk you through how to do this on the Suicide Prevention Hotline.