How insensitive can people be? After actor Robin Williams’ apparent suicide, I read this comment on Facebook: “He won’t rest in peace; he will pay for this last selfish act“. I don’t know what kind of religion this person claims (it’s a friend of a friend) but mine recognizes that mental illness diminishes one’s responsibility in taking their life and urges us to pray and hope for their salvation (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 2282 and 2283).
I hate it when tragedy strikes and all people do is discuss the degree of responsibility of the persons involved. We have to get over our self-righteousness and realize that mental illness and suicidal thoughts simply happen to people, it’s not something that we choose.
Robin Williams had what they used to call manic depressive disorder, which is now called bipolar disorder. Perhaps making people laugh was his way to cope with it.
I struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, both after my abortions and after child birth. My postpartum depression is not as severe as my post-abortion obsession with death used to be, but it does affect me.
In addition, after my fourth child was born nine months ago, I dealt with acute pain due to a herniated disc and sciatica. For weeks, I couldn’t get out of bed, sleep more than two hours in a row or get dressed by myself. I chose not to take the pain medication I needed to continue to nurse the baby without drugs crossing into breast milk. Looking back and should this happen with another baby, I’m quite sure I’ll choose formula and pain killers over breast milk. I’m not here to play Hero-Mom, after all. I’d rather manage to get some sleep and have enough energy to take care of my children But I digress.
When you are in pain 24/7, you think about suicide because all you desire is for the pain to stop once and for all (which is probably how Robin Williams felt about his existence in the low phases of his illness). My Catholic faith helped me not to give into despair and being able to share my scary thoughts with my husband was most reassuring. I’m feeling OK now but Robin Williams’ death reminds me of my vulnerability and of the suicidal thoughts I couldn’t help having a couple of months ago.
When I was in my twenties, depression was called “the ill of the century”. I you have never struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, you are a lucky person but don’t think for a minute that your loved ones are immune to it or that it will never happen to you. Be mindful of a friend or family member who seems constantly sad and wants to be left alone. Keep this website and this phone number handy: suicide prevention life line 1-800-273-8255.
When a cancer patient dies, it is said that they lost their battle with cancer. Sadly, Robin Williams lost his battle with depression. Let’s keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers, as well as those struggling with depression and contemplating suicide. It’s our friendship, not our condemnation that has the power to help them.